Program Description

Social Security's Disabled Widow(er)’s Insurance Benefits are federally funded and administered by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). These benefits are paid to the disabled widow or widower of a deceased worker who had earned enough Social Security credits.

Program Requirements

In order to qualify for this benefit program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least age 50, but not yet age 60.
  • Have been married to the deceased spouse for not less than 9 months immediately prior to the day in which the deceased spouse died, unless an exception applies.
  • Be unmarried, unless the marriage can be disregarded.
  • Not be entitled to an equal or higher Social Security retirement benefit based on your own work.

Based on the information you gave us, you were married for less than one year to your deceased spouse. Usually, a person must be married for at least nine months before they can get benefits on a deceased spouse's record. However, there are exceptions to that rule. (For a list of exceptions, visit the Publications Page and review Section 401 of the Social Security Handbook.) You could get Social Security disabled widow's or widower's benefits if:

  • you meet one of the exceptions.
  • your deceased spouse had enough work credits.
  • you meet the medical rules for disability benefits.
  • you are not getting a higher benefit on your own work record.

To see the listing of impairments that can qualify for disability, visit the "Adult Listing of Impairments" page. Even if your condition is not included in the listing, you still could get benefits.  To find out more about how Social Security decides if you are disabled, visit SSA’s Publications Page and review "Disability," Social Security Publication Number 05-10029.

Application Process

Widows, widowers, and surviving divorced spouses cannot apply online for survivor’s benefits. For application information, please visit the How To Apply page.

Contact Information

Would you like more information about disabled widow's or widower's benefits?
Visit SSA’s Publications Page and review the publication "Survivors," Social Security Publication Number 05-10084 or review Chapter 4 of the Social Security Handbook.

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