Survivor Benefits, Widow's Benefits, Death Benefits

When a spouse dies, you may be concerned about how you will provide for yourself or your family. If you were relying on your spouse’s Disability payments, you may be wondering if those payments will continue, what they’ll look like, and if you are eligible for anything else.

First the good news: There is a good chance that you qualify for at least something.

Breaking Down Survivor Benefits, Disabled Widow’s Benefits, & Death Benefits

The three types of benefits above are very different and should be evaluated independently.

Survivor Benefits come from the deceased’s earning records with Social Security and are typically distributed to a widow(er)s and divorced spouses that are 60 years old or older. You do not have to be disabled in order to receive survivor benefits as long as the deceased is eligible for retirement benefits and you are 60 or older. However, if you are under the age of 60 AND also disabled, you can collect survivor’s benefits earlier. These are called Disabled Widow(er)’s Benefits.

Disabled Widow(er)’s Benefits are generally for surviving spouses or divorced spouses of the deceased that are also disabled and have turned 50 or older within 7 years of the date of death. Your deceased spouse must be eligible for retirement benefits in order to apply for this program. You must apply within 7 years of the date of death to be eligible. This application cannot be done online. Additionally, you would have to be medically examined by Social Security to ensure that you meet the government’s medical requirements.

One exception to the rule for Disabled Widow(er)’s Benefits is when you are the mother or father to the deceased’s child, and the child is under the age of 16 or has been deemed disabled before the age of 22. If you are tending to a child under the age of 16 or that has been deemed disabled before age 22, you do NOT have to be over 50 years of age to apply for Widow’s Benefits.

Death Benefits or Lump Sum Death Benefits are paid to a surviving spouse that was living in the same household as the deceased at the time of death. It is a one-time lump sum. It is typically a couple of hundred dollars. For 2019, the one-time payment is $255. You must apply for this benefit within two years of the date of death. You do not have to be disabled in order to apply for this death benefit. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment can be made to their child.

Marriage Length Requirement

Depending on your age, the type of benefit you qualify for, and whether or not you are disabled, there are rules that require you to be married for a certain amount of time prior to death.

Because of the complexity of the rules regarding marriage length, contact the Packard Law Firm for a free consultation at 210-880-9395.

Things You Need to Apply For Disabled Widow(er)’s Benefits

  • Death Certificate or Notice from the Funeral Home
  • Marriage Certificate
  • The Deceased’s birth certificate
  • The Deceased’s Social Security Number
  • Paper DWB Application (SSA-10)
  • Paper Disability Report (SSA-3368)

Applying for Disabled Widow(er)’s Benefits can be overwhelming and it has many technicalities. Our office is happy to assist you in this process so that you can grieve without the additional stress. Give us a call at 210-880-9395.

Contact an Attorney About Your Benefits

If you are between the ages of 50 - 65 and a widow(er), check out this article on how to maximize your benefits: Maximizing Widow(er)s Disability and Retirement Benefits

Government regulations are very complex when it comes to a widow(er)s benefits. The best thing you can do is consult with an attorney. The Packard Law Firm is committed to helping individuals make the best decisions about programs to help you and your family. Reach out to us today.