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Learn About Social Security Benefits for Surviving Spouses

Social Security benefits for surviving spouses are available through a deceased spouse’s Social Security earning record. Social Security benefits for widow or widower can be available upon retirement or sooner under specific circumstances. It is important to have a surviving spouses Social Security planner for seniors because it will help you prepare for the future and ensure that your spouse will be taken care of when you pass. Planning ahead and reviewing application qualifications can help your spouse prepare for whatever may happen to you and have a sense of security as you both age. To learn more about Social Security survivor benefits for spouses, eligibility requirements and how a surviving spouse can apply for benefits, continue reading below.

What are the requirements for surviving spouses to get Social Security Benefits?

Senior SS benefits for surviving spouses can be received at 60 years of age or when the spouse has reached full retirement age. Social Security benefits for surviving spouses are also available as early as 50 years of age for spouses with disabilities. To qualify for early disability SS benefits for a surviving spouse, the disability must have manifested before the spouse’s passing or within seven years of the spouse’s death. Senior Social Security for widowed spouses in retirement will not affect the surviving spouse’s SS benefits. The widowed spouse can switch to his or her own retirements benefits starting at 62 years of age or whenever it is most convenient for him or her after turning 62 years of age.

When considering Social Security survivor benefits for spouses, widows and widowers should also be aware of the restrictions put on remarriage. Senior SS survivor benefits for spouses cannot be given to spouses who have remarried before 60 years of age, or 50 years of age if they are disabled. If a surviving spouse remarries after 60 years of age, his or her survivor’s benefits will be unaffected. Social Security benefits for widows or widowers are also available at any time if the spouse has not remarried and is the legal guardian of a child who is younger than 16 years of age, or is disabled, and is entitled to survivor’s benefits. For further information on surviving spouse benefits restrictions and requirements, you can download our comprehensive guide today.

Are divorced surviving spouses qualified for SS benefits?

Divorced spouses are eligible for Social Security benefits for surviving spouses if they were married to the deceased for at least 10 years. A surviving divorced spouse can receive the same surviving spouse benefits a widow or widower would receive without affecting the eligibility or amount of Social Security benefits the other surviving family will receive. Divorced spouses can also be eligible for a senior’s SS survivor benefits if they have custody of the children of the deceased. The child must be eligible for survivor benefits and cannot be older than 16 year of age. The only exception to this rule is if the divorced spouse is caring for a child with a disability, then there is no age restriction. The Social Security benefits for surviving spouses that divorced spouses receive will not interfere with their personal SS record and can be switched over after they turn 62 years of age.

How to Apply for SS Benefits as a Surviving Spouse

To apply for SS benefits for surviving spouses, you must contact a local Social Security office directly. You can go in person or call the office, but you cannot submit a request online. If you were already receiving Social Security benefits from your spouse before he or she passed, you may not need to fill out an application to receive survivor’s benefits. However, you are still required to call the Social Security office to inform it of your spouse’s passing. Social Security applications for surviving spouses must be turned into the Social Security office and the surviving spouse must present a set of legal documents to receive benefits. These documents include the following:

  • Proof of spouse’s death
  • Surviving spouse’s birth certificate
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency of surviving spouse
  • Divorce decree if applicable
  • W-2 form or self-employed tax return

SS survivor’s benefits for spouses will be given after you have successfully reported your spouse’s passing and submitted all the necessary documents to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The employee at the office you choose to visit will also ask you questions regarding your spouse, the circumstances of his or her passing and if he or she received any form of government assistance while alive. When applying for Social Security benefits for a widow or widower with disabilities, you will need to fill out additional paperwork if you wish for the benefits to be managed by your caretaker or if you wish to receive benefits before 50 years of age. You can also ask the SSA about receiving your senior SS survivor’s benefits as a lump-sum death payment if that is something you may be interested in. Usually, Social Security payments are distributed monthly with the amount depending on the SS record of your deceased spouse, but a lump-sum is given all at once under special circumstances. To learn more about Social Security benefits for surviving spouses and more, download our guide for more detailed information.