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What You Need to Know About Collecting Social Security Widow Benefits


Losing a spouse is one of the most difficult parts of life. The emotions of losing a partner are certainly the most difficult part, but there is also the financial aspect of losing someone that was helping provide income. While it will never replace the person or the income they supplied to a marriage, there is a widow Social Security benefit that can help alleviate some stress.

What Qualifies for Widow Social Security Benefits

First off, the couple must have been legally married for at least nine months before a spouse passes away to be able to receive a portion of their Social Security benefits. If they had already started receiving their benefit then depending on if the reached full retirement age before collecting or not will alter the amount a widow is eligible to be paid.

The spouse that has passed must have worked the required amount of time while paying into Social Security for the benefit to be available to a surviving partner. For most people that means working 40 quarter years, or a total of 10 years. The year a person was born plays a factor into how much time is needed, so it’s best to ask the Social Security Administration (SSA) to be certain.

The next qualification is the surviving spouse’s age. For most people, you must be at least 60 years of age to receive full benefit as a survivor. The way it generally works is that the earlier a person begins receiving payments, the smaller each payment will be. This is because the benefit has a full sum target that it is slowly paying in installments. The more installments because of a longer time expected to be paid, the smaller the payments will be so that the time given to reach that full sum amount balances.

The rules can be quite complicated in figuring out how long to wait, or what the payments will be, so it’s best to talk to a qualified Social Security representative to learn about the options.

If the Survivor has a Disability

If the surviving spouse had a recognized disability before the passing of their partner, or if it develops within seven years from when they passed, then the age for eligibility to start drawing the widow Social Security benefit can be lowered down to age 50.

Collecting from a Divorced Spouse

Another way to qualify for a survivor benefit is if you were married for at least 10 years before getting a divorce from your partner, and then they pass away. If that’s the case then you may also have a claim for a survivor benefit.

As this is a complicated matter, seeking out help is the best option. Please reach out to a Social Security representative or experienced representative to best help you know what options are available to you.

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