Program Description

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

General Program Requirements

To qualify for this benefit program, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Be at least age 60
  • Be the widow or widower of a fully insured worker
  • Meet the marriage duration requirement.
  • 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 about your age, your current marital status and length of your marriage to your deceased spouse, you could get Social Security widow's or widower's benefits beginning at age 60 if your former spouse had enough work credits and you are not getting a higher benefit on your own work record.

PLEASE NOTE: If you get (or will get) a pension based on work for an employer who did not withhold Social Security taxes, such as a government agency or an employer in another country, your Social Security benefits may be reduced. Visit SSA’s Publications Home Page and review "A Pension from Work Not Covered by Social Security", Social Security Publication Number 05-10045 and "Government Pension Offset", Social Security Publication Number 05-10007.

Your Next Steps

The following information will lead you to the next steps to apply for this program.

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.

Program Contact Information

Would you like more information about widow's or widower's benefits?
Visit SSA’s Publications Home 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 Home page and review "Social Security: How You Earn Credits," Social Security Publication Number 05-10072.

Or for additional information on this and any SSA benefit, call:
1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778)

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