The point at which a widow can collect Social Security benefits after the death of her spouse depends on the individual circumstances. All widows can immediately collect a one-time benefit in the amount of $255.
If the couple has been married for 9 months, and if the widow is responsible for a child of the deceased who is under the age of 16, benefits can be drawn immediately. If there is no child of this age, the widow can draw full benefits at full retirement age. She can receive up to 70 percent of the benefits as early as the age of 60. A disabled widow can start receiving benefits as early as the age of 50.