If something happens to a worker, benefits may be payable to their widow, widower or surviving divorced spouse with a disability if the following conditions are met:

  • He or she is between ages 50 and 60,
  • Their condition meets the definition of disability for adults, and
  • The disability started before or within seven years of the worker's death.

Note: If a widow or widower who is caring for the worker's children receives Social Security benefits, he or she is still eligible if their disability starts before those payments end or within seven years after they end.

Widows, widowers, and surviving divorced spouses cannot apply online for survivors benefits. However, if they want to apply for benefits, they should contact Social Security immediately at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appointment. (If they are deaf or hard of hearing, they should call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.)

They can speed up the application process if they complete an Adult Disability Report and have it available at the time of their appointment.

We use the same definition of disability for widows and widowers as we do for workers.