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Social Security Disabled Widow(er)'s Insurance Benefits

Eligibility Scenario: Widowed Disabled Worker


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.

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.


To be eligible 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 about your age, your current marital status and length of marriage to your deceased spouse indicate that you meet most of the requirements for Social Security disabled widow's or widower's benefits. However, since you are working, you may not meet the legal definition of disability. Also, your former spouse must have enough work credits and you must not be getting a higher benefit on your own work record.

To find out more about how Social Security decides if you are disabled, visit SSA’s Publications Page, select "Disability" under "Topics," and review Social Security Publication Number 05-10029.


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


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.

Would you like more information about Social Security credits?
Visit SSA's Publications Page and review "Social Security: How You Earn Credits," Social Security Publication Number 05-10072.

You may also contact Social Security by phone at:
1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778)