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Social Security Survivor’s Benefits for Widows and Widowers

Social Security provides retirement benefits for workers when they reach retirement age, with the amount of benefits being based on their work history. Individuals who become disabled before reaching retirement age may also be entitled to benefits, since a portion of their contributions to Social Security went to Social Security Disability Insurance, known as SSDI or just SSD. If the recipient dies, benefits can also be made available to a surviving spouse or former spouse who applies. Survivor benefits include payments based on the earnings of the deceased as well as a disability of the surviving widow or widower.

Survivor’s Benefits

Survivor’s benefits include a $255 one-time payment and additional monthly benefits, which are based on the work record of the deceased and how much was contributed to Social Security over the years. A different set of rules applies to former spouses, whether they were divorced or had remarried at the time of the death of their former spouse.

Disability Benefits for Disabled Widows and Widowers

A widow or widower who is disabled may receive SSD based on the earning records of their deceased spouse or former spouse. Several rules apply in order to qualify as a disabled widow or widower, including meeting the strict definition of disability used by the Social Security Administration. The widow/widower must also be between the age of 50 and 60 years old and have a disability that started within seven years of the loss of the spouse.

Apply for Benefits at Your Local Social Security Office

Social Security does not allow one to apply for survivor’s benefits online, but helpful information can still be found on the Administration’s website. To report a death, call 1-800-772-1213 or visit your local Social Security office. Funeral directors/funeral homes will often report the death to Social Security, provided they have been given the deceased’s Social Security Number.

Disabled widows and widowers must still meet the same strict rules for SSD that apply to workers and face an uphill battle in the fight to receive much-needed benefits. If your application for benefits has been denied, contact Lee Cossell & Feagley, LLP in Indianapolis for assistance.

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