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I am a disabled widow. I have not worked outside my home in many years. Can I get Social Security for disability?

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Learn how widows, widowers, and divorced surviving spouses age fifty or older may get Social Security for disability from their spouse’s work record.


Watch the Video: “I am a disabled widow. I have not worked outside my home in many years. Can I get Social Security for disability?”

Benefits for Disabled Widows

Social Security survivor benefits include benefits for widows and widowers who are age sixty and over, whether or not they are disabled. Additionally, Social Security benefits for disability are available to qualifying disabled widows and widowers as early as age fifty. The older you are when you become disabled, the higher your benefit will be. For information about Social Security’s definition of disability, please see our article “What Is Disability According to Social Security Disability Law?”

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for widows or widowers benefits, your deceased spouse must have worked enough in Social Security-taxed jobs to insure his or her family for survivor benefits. The Social Security Administration can tell you whether he or she had enough work credits. Another non-disability requirement is that, usually you are not eligible for disabled widow or widower’s benefits if you remarried before age fifty and are still married when you become disabled. Typically, you must also become disabled within seven years of the death of your spouse or within seven years of the end of your prior entitlement, if any, on your spouse’s earnings record.

Disability for Medicare Only

Medicare health insurance begins after you have received twenty-four months of disabled widow’s or widower’s benefits. If you are age sixty or older and you became disabled before age sixty, you can apply for disabled widow’s or widower’s benefits just for the purpose of obtaining Medicare coverage earlier than age sixty-five. Being found disabled for Medicare purposes will not increase your widow’s benefit based on age, but it will provide medical insurance coverage. For more information about Medicare, see our article  “If I Am Approved for Social Security Disability, Will I Get Medicare and Medicaid Health Insurance?”

Disabled Surviving Divorced Spouses

Disabled surviving divorced spouses who were married to a deceased insured worker for more than ten years are eligible under the same rules as widows and widowers. Social Security for disability can be paid to a disabled widow or widower and to a disabled surviving divorced spouse simultaneously without reducing the amount of each other’s benefits.

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  1. Dori says:

    Can my disability payment go up because my ex-husband abandoned and divorced me in 2012? He brings home over $4000.00/ a month an d I have been forced to live on only $742.00/ a month. I am unable to even afford my own apt. Thank you for taking the time to read my question. Sincerely, Dori

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Dori,

      It sounds as if you are receiving Social Security and SSI that total $742.00 a month. Those benefits will not go up because of your divorce. If you were married more than ten years, you will be entitled to divorced wife’s retirement benefits when you reach retirement age if your husband is receiving Social Security Retirement or Disability benefits. Similarly, if he were to die, you could receive divorced surviving spouse’s benefits once you reached retirement age.



  2. Lee says:

    Hello. My husband is stage 4 cancer. He currently receives @ $1700 monthly from disability. I am 54, not disabled and work full time. Will I receive any widower’s benefit?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Lee,

      You could be eligible for monthly widow’s benefits as follows: full benefits at your full retirement age (67); reduced benefits beginning at age 60 if you are not earning too much at that time; reduced benefits prior to age 60 if you are disabled and eligible for more on his earnings record than your own. Otherwise, there is a $255 death benefit payable to you as his wife living in the same household with him.




  3. Liz says:

    My husband was getting disability he passed away in may we have 2 children under 16 i was told when the youngest turns 16 i will no longer get any money for me.I had a stroke in nov 2013 and surgey i havent worked in maybe 10 years will i be able to get disabled window benifits i am 45 my youngest wont be 16 for 2 years

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Liz,

      You will not be eligible for disabled widow’s benefits until you are age fifty. You can apply three months in advance of your fiftieth birthday.



  4. Linda says:

    I am a 62 yr. old widow, and receiving ss widow benefits because I am unemployed. I am wondering if I am eligible to receive medicare or Medicaid insurance since I am a widow receiving ss widow benefits? I cant afford the Obama care insurance plans which cost me more than if I don’t have any insurance at all!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Linda,

      You will not be eligible for Medicare until you turn sixty-five, unless you are getting disabled widow’s benefits, in which case Medicare would start after you have received twenty-four months of disabled widows benefits.



  5. josh says:

    my mother is 56 and recieves disability, my father, her husband, passed away many years ago (1992). will she be able to recieve widower benifits as well as her disability? and if so, when?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Josh,

      Your mother should discuss this matter with Social Security. First if her benefit is more than she could get as a widow, clearly, she would stay on her own benefits. If it would be higher, she would need to decide whether to take reduced widow’s benefits now or leave them to take at a higher rate when she reaches full retirement age.



  6. yvette says:

    I want to know how long before social security pay me and finish processing my workmans comp social security disability claim from 1996. I started receiving my monthly payments since September last year.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Yvette,

      You need to follow up on your back pay because it has been much longer than the norm for processing. If you are told you just have to wait, I suggest contacting your congressional representative.



  7. Jennifer says:

    My mother just turned 50 years old. She was married to my father for over 10 years and they are now divorce.(my father is 100% disabled/retired veteran) . She remarried after my father and is a widow of a 100% disabled/retired military vet. She is also now disabled (due to a massive stroke) but has not been able to receive any benefits due to her age and she has no work history. Now that she is 50, I’m trying to see what she is eligible for. Can she be declared disabled at 50 with no work history? She only receives widow benefits monthly which is a little over 1000 a month. She is covered by Tricare standard. I’m trying to figure out if she is eligible for disability through my father or her deceased husband, in hopes that we can her Medicare. My father is 54 this year and her deceased husband would have been 54 this year as well. Please help!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jennifer,

      For me to respond to your question, I need more information. Please clarify the widow’s benefits your mother is receiving. Are they Social Security Disabled Widow’s benefits or some other widow’s benefits such as military widow’s?

      Thank you,


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