If you are a disabled widow age 50 or older you may be able to receive benefits off your spouse’s (or former spouse’s) Social Security record. If your spouse or former spouse has recently passed away you should notify Social Security as soon as possible. Contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.
If you are a widow from a spouse you were divorced from, you may still be eligible to receive disabled widow benefits even if you are not eligible for Social Security Disability on your own record. To be eligible you need to have been married to your spouse for 10 years or longer and meet the medical requirements for disability benefits under Social Security. This includes being evaluated by your State disability determination agency. Additionally, your spouse needs to have earned a minimum of 40 credits (40 credits is 10 years of work) from working in jobs that pay Social Security taxes.
If you were married to your spouse when they passed, Social Security does not require that you were married for 10 years. In either case, you will need to provide proof of relationship in the form of your marriage certificate or divorce decree, along with your spouse’s death certificate when you file for benefits. As the surviving spouse you will be eligible for a one time payment of $255. This one time payment is only paid to a surviving spouse or a dependent child.
When you apply for disabled widow benefits the State will evaluate your medical condition. This process typically takes 120 days. If approved, you will be eligible to receive benefits as long as you continue to meet the disability requirements until age 65. At age 65 you may be converted to a retirement benefit on your own record if that amount is higher; if the amount is not higher you will continue receiving widow benefits but will not be receiving them for disability. Disability benefits are not paid after the age of 65.