Monday, December 12, 2016

Receiving Social Security Benefits as a Widow

Here is some helpful information sent to me about Social Security benefits. 

Receiving Social Security Benefits as a Widow

If you have lost your husband unexpectedly, the last thing on your mind should be your household’s finances. Unfortunately, making ends meet can become challenging for many wives who’ve lost their spouse, especially for younger women. If your loved one has passed away, there could be help available for you. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers financial resources for dependent spouses and children when a provider passes away. Here are some steps to ask yourself to help determine whether or not you should start the application process.

Step One: Determine if your husband worked enough to qualify.
The SSA will only pay benefits to spouses, known as survivors’ benefits, to the dependents of deceased workers. This means that if your husband did not have a job that paid taxes, you will not qualify for any Social Security benefits.

Fortunately, the income needed to qualify for survivors’ benefits is moderately low. If your husband earned around $5,000 per year for any five of the past ten years, he will have worked enough for you and your children to qualify.

Step Two: Know if you are old enough to qualify for auxiliary benefits.

Younger spouses can skip this step. The SSA is very strict when it comes to how old a spouse must be to receive auxiliary benefits on their own behalves from a deceased spouse. If you have a disability yourself, you can begin claiming auxiliary benefits at age 50. Otherwise, it’s age 60.

This makes it very challenging for young women to receive auxiliary benefits, but not impossible. Just shy of 140,000 young widows and widowers receive survivors’ benefits. The other option available for young spouses is to receive benefits while raising a child.

Step Three: If you’re not age 60+, determine if you have a qualifying child.

The SSA will award all dependent children of a deceased spouse benefits on behalf of their father until age 18, or age 19 if still in high school. But many widows may not realize that they are also eligible for benefits as a parent.

A widow who is taking care of a child who’s lost her parent, and is under age 16, is eligible for survivors’ benefits. This means that all widows with children age 15 and under can receive a second check for themselves for the hardship of losing a parent. It does not matter how old you are: If you have a young child, you will be eligible for benefits.

This is true even if your spouse had children from another marriage. Stepchildren or adopted children will not only be eligible for auxiliary benefits, but will allow you to
receive auxiliary benefits as well. Once your child turns 16, he or she will be the only recipient of disability benefits.

Step Four: If all else fails, you are still entitled to a one-time payment.

If your husband earned enough work credits, you can lump sum death benefit of $255. The only requirement is that you lived with your spouse at the time of his passing.

To apply for Social Security survivors’ benefits for yourself or any children on behalf of your late husband, you will need to visit your closest SSA office. You can schedule an appointment by calling the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. Once you or your children are approved for survivors’ benefits, you can focus on healing. Who receives survivors’ benefits Withdrawing retirement to apply for survivors’ benefits.

Submitted by:

Deanna Power, Director of Outreach at Disability Benefits Help, an independent organization dedicated to helping people qualify for Social Security benefits. If you have any questions on this topic, or would like to learn more about qualifying for survivors’ benefits, feel free to reach out at

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