The Social Security Administration states that both spouses are eligible for survivor benefits if they already collect Social Security. When collecting benefits only from a spouse's work, benefits change to survivor benefits after the reported death. If receiving benefits from one's own work, survivor benefits are added to existing benefits.
Survivor benefits can only be collected by a widow or widower after the age of 60, unless the surviving spouse is disabled, in which case they may collect at 50. Widows or widowers can collect survivor benefits at any age if they care for a child who is under 16 or disabled and is collecting Social Security benefits.