The Social Security Administration (SSA) has provisions in place for covering the widows and widowers of deceased workers with Social Security old age or retirement benefits and Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits as well.
Workers contribute to the Social Security throughout the course of their employment. Every year, four work credits can be earned, making 40 credits potentially accumulated over the course of just ten years of employment.
After 40 credits are earned, a worker is eligible for Social Security benefits – including benefits paid through the retirement or the SSD funds. Once a worker is eligible for benefits, his or her surviving spouse, or possibly even his or her ex-spouse, may also be eligible to receive benefits under the deceased worker’s accumulated work credits.
A disabled widower or widow can receive benefits as soon as he or she turns 50 years of age, if the disability began within seven years of the date of death of the spouse under whose SSD eligibility they qualify.
The same disability definition is used for widowers and widows as what’s used for any disabled adult worker. Even surviving spouses who become disabled and remarry after the age of 50 are still eligible for SSD benefits under their former spouse’s work credits with the SSA.
Notably, a widower or widow that hasn’t remarried can receive survivor benefits at any age, if he or she is caring for the child (age 16 or younger) of the deceased worker, or if he or she is caring for a disabled child who qualifies for SSD benefits under the work credits of the deceased worker.