Can women who are widows collect Social Security?


Quick Answer

As of February 2015, widows can collect Social Security survivors benefits beginning at age 60. Rules for Social Security benefits vary based on the woman's situation.

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Full Answer

If a widow takes her Social Security survivor benefits before she has reached her full retirement age, the monthly amount is lowered. Full retirement age varies between 65 and 67 based on when the widow was born. When a widow has her own Social Security benefits and survivors benefits, the total amount received from Social Security can vary based on when she chooses to take her own benefits and her survivors benefits. Only one benefit can be received, so a widow cannot combine her own benefits with her survivors benefits.

A woman who remarried before she turned 60 cannot collect survivors benefits, but remarrying after age 60 does not affect the benefits. A disabled widow can receive benefits starting at the age of 50, provided the disability began either before her spouse's death or within seven years after the death. In the case of a disability, remarriage after age 50 does not affect the benefits. A widow who cares for her spouse's disabled child or child under age 16 can receive survivors benefits regardless of her age, as long as she has not remarried.

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