In the United States, a wife can start collecting on the Social Security benefits from her deceased husband once her application for survivor's (or more specifically, widow's) benefits has been approved, according to CNN Money. To apply for survivor's benefits, the wife can either visit the local Social Security office or call the toll-free number of the agency, which is 800-772-1213. It is a good idea for the claimant to bring along the needed documents, including an accomplished Form SSA-10, to facilitate the application process.
According to the regulations of the Social Security Agency, a wife is eligible to receive her spouse's Social Security benefit under the Social Security Insurance program. If the wife is somewhere in the retirement age of 65 to 67, she is entitled to 100 percent of the benefits. A widow above 60 years of age but not in full retirement age will receive 71 to 99 percent of her spouse's benefits. Regardless of age, the widow will only receive 75 percent of her spouse's benefits if she has a child below the age of 16.
The following are some of the documents that may need to be provided upon applying for survivor's benefits: death certificate of the worker, birth certificate of the claimant, marriage certificate and proof of citizenship or proof of legal alien status of the claimant.
To help assess the claimant's eligibility and to ascertain the extent of the benefits that she is entitled to, the widow may also be asked a few standard questions upon her application. The questions may include the claimant's name and Social Security number, the worker's Social Security number and the claimant's citizenship status.