How Can a Widow Receive Pension Benefits?


Quick Answer

Whether or not a widow can receive pension benefits varies based on a few factors, including where the spouse worked and retired from and whether or not benefits are available for surviving spouses. Widows can also receive Social Security benefits as a surviving spouse.

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Wiser Women states that widows should start receiving a widow's pension immediately following the passing of the spouse, provided the spouse has already retired. If the spouse has not retired, the widow can choose to receive smaller payments on the date that the spouse would have reached early retirement age.

Widows do have to contact Social Security directly at 1-800-772-1213 as of 2015 in order to apply for survivor's benefits. A widow has the ability to begin receiving survivor's benefits through Social Security at age 60, but these benefits are paid at a reduced rate. Widows who are disabled and had the disability within seven years of the spouse's passing can receive benefits as early as age 50.

There are also some circumstances where an employee has the ability to waive his spouse's rights to survivor's benefits provided the spouse agreed to this in writing. This can also be achieved via court order in the event the spouse cannot be located or has been abandoned.

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