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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?

By   /  March 3, 2016  /  80 Comments

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

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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. Rene Cavazos says:

    Dear Kay,
    My husband of 30 years died in aug of 2011, at age 63, after an illness of almost 20 years. He started recieving ssdi benefits in 1994. I did not work enough to get very much on my own record, as I was his caregiver. He was recieving 963.00 per month and the state paid his medicare premium. I currently recieve a VA widows pension on his record. Was he recieving 100% of his ss benefit ? If not, what percentage was he getting? Would my benefit be calculated on this amount? I am unable to work, but I dont want to lose the benefit I currently have if the ssd benefit would be lower. I am 55.
    Thank you, Rene

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Rene,

      If you are under full retirement age, you can apply for Social Security reduced widow’s benefits, which means the amount will be less than what your husband was drawing. The amount of the reduction depends on your age when you become entitled. If you are full retirement age, you will receive the same as benefit your husband received plus any cost-of-living adjustments since then.

      I suggest that you contact the VA to find out what effect receiving Social Security would have on your VA widows pension. That will help you decide what is the most advantageous course of action.


  2. L Warren says:

    I posted on here yesterday and my question has disappeared. Was it moved somewhere else? Thank you for your time.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Lynn,

      You will find your post and my response where you posted under the article “Will My Benefits Increase Because I Became Disabled While Collecting Early Social Security Retirement Benefits?” under the “SSD Basic Facts” tab at the top of this webpage.


  3. radaisy west says:

    Hi, I will be 60 yrs old in October, I’ve being receiving Widows Disability since 2010 (my husband pass away in 2008 and was retired from the Police Dept “i’m not getting his pension” and he was disable since 1971)
    My question is if i get marry can i loose my widow disability?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Radaisy,

      Remarriage after age sixty will not affect the widow’s benefit you receive on your prior husband’s earnings record.


  4. Sandy says:

    Hi Kay,

    My husband died suddenly in March, one month after turning 60. He was self-employed full time and not collecting anything from Social Security. I am 52 and am caring for our daughter, who is 24 and has been disabled since birth and has been on SSI since age 18. I applied for SSDI for our daughter and for child-in-care benefits for me. The representative said it shouldn’t be a long wait because my daughter was already on SSI and her disability has been established before age 21. It has been two months since we applied. We received the letter that said I will be the rep payee if my daughter is approved. However, I’m worried because it is taking so long. My husband was the main wage earner…is it usually a long wait to get approved? Is it likely to be months more?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Sandy,

      Initial claims take from two to five months. In theory someone receiving SSI from age eighteen should fall in the shorter time range. However, if the claim is just waiting its turn in line, the time advantageous might only begin after work has been actively started on the claim. You might try calling the Disability Determination Services to get a status and mention your daughter has been receiving SSI since age eighteen, so you were led to believe the decision would be quick.


  5. Sue says:

    Spouse died at 52, was on disability for two years. Myself and children got SS while he was alive and until the kids reached 17. I became disabled while last child was 16.
    My amount I received was lowered by 400 dollars when I became disabled. Now I am 66 and my disability was changed to regular SS and it was increased by 400. Am total confused to why the amount was increased. Is there a special section that lets my amount go back up at 66?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Sue,

      I suggest taking a look at your claim number on documents before and after the change. I think when you reached sixty-six you were either changed from reduced disabled widow’s benefits to full unreduced retirement benefits or from your own disability benefit to unreduced widow’s benefits.

      The disabled wido’ws claim number would be your deceased spouse’s number followed by a W; widow’s benefits based on age would be followed by a D. Disability benefits on your own earnings record would be on your number followed by HA; retirement, by A. If that doesn’t help, I suggest contacting Social Security for an explanation.


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