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Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

Amount of Widow(er)'s Insurance Benefit


407. Amount of Widow(er)'s Insurance Benefit

407.1 How is the widow(er)'s benefit rate computed?

The widow(er)'s insurance benefit rate equals 100 percent of the deceased worker's primary insurance amount plus any additional amount the deceased worker was entitled to because of delayed retirement credits. (See §720.)

407.2 When is the benefit rate less?

Your widow(er)'s insurance benefit payable may be less than what was computed above if any of the conditions below apply:

  1. A reduction is necessary because the "family maximum" applies (this reduction is discussed in §§731-732);

  2. You are also entitled to a smaller retirement insurance or disability insurance benefit (only the difference between the larger widow(er)'s insurance benefit and the other benefit is payable as the widow(er)'s insurance benefit; however, this amount is payable in addition to the other benefit);

  3. You are entitled for months before the month you reach retirement age. See §§723-725 for an explanation of how the reduced rate is computed;

  4. You choose to receive and are paid a reduced widow(er)'s benefit for months before you reach retirement age. A reduced benefit rate is payable for as long as you are entitled to widow(er)'s benefits. For a possible adjustment at age 62 and retirement age, see §728;

    Note: Entitlement to this reduced rate may result in a reduction in any disability or retirement insurance benefit to which you may later become entitled.

  5. You are caring for your deceased spouse's child and:

    1. The child is under age 16 or disabled;

    2. The child is entitled to child's insurance benefits; and

    3. You have not reached retirement age. In this case, your widow(er)'s benefits are not reduced for those months below 75 percent of the deceased spouse's primary insurance amount; or

  6. The deceased worker was entitled to a reduced retirement benefit for the month before the month he or she died.

Last Revised: March, 2001

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August 19, 2008 by Jessie Manas (not verified)

If a widow is getting dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC) pension check from the veterans.Does that income count against the widows bebefits from social security?
The Veterans officer told me they did'nt think it would. That i should be able to get the widows benefit without it being counted as income towards social security.
your help with this question would be greatly appreciated.

widow eligible benifits

January 18, 2009 by Guest

at what age do a widow become qualified for any surviors benfits of a deceased spouse. at the 75 percent reduced rate.

Survivor Benefits

January 20, 2009 by David Luhman

From :

Social Security survivors benefits can be paid to:

  • A widow or widower -- full benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60
  • A disabled widow or widower -- as early as age 50
  • A widow or widower at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased's child who is under age 16 or disabled, and receiving Social Security benefits
  • Unmarried children under 18, or up to age 19 if they are attending high school full time. Under certain circumstances, benefits can be paid to stepchildren, grandchildren, or adopted children.
  • Children at any age who were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled.
  • Dependent parents age 62 or older

dic pension check

January 26, 2009 by Guest

I don't think they should get both. The government is already paying them once. Social security is already in trouble and this would help the situation.I know someone who is receiving dic survivor benefits and gets more than social security pays the majoriaty of americans.I know they protect our country, but if it wasn't for the workers we wouldn't have a country to protect. Dica and survivors already get their medical and prescriptions free and don't have to pay taxes on it.If thy don't have to pay taxes on DIC why do we have to pay taxes on social security? It should be equal treatment for all people. If theyget their medical free, why can't the people who helped this country grow?

Widows benefits

February 17, 2009 by Guest

My husband just passed and he received social security disability.
I am 59 years old. When do I start to receive his benefits?

When can I receive Survivor Benefits?

February 18, 2009 by David Luhman

The benefit amount is based on the earnings of the person who died. The more the worker paid into Social Security, the greater your benefits will be.

Social Security uses the deceased worker’s basic benefit amount and calculates what percentage survivors are entitled to. The percentage depends on the survivors’ ages and relationship to the worker. Here are the most typical situations:

* A widow or widower, at full retirement age or older, generally receives 100 percent of the worker’s basic benefit amount;
* A widow or widower, age 60 or older, but under full retirement age, receives about 71-99 percent of the worker’s basic benefit amount;

See here for details :

widow survivor benefits

March 7, 2009 by Guest

If widow is 46, no children, husband died after six years of marriage, Will she be entitled to apply for survivor benefits in the future?
Does she has to submit any application to the Social Security Office?
If she doesn't apply inmediately will she lose her right to do it in the future?

46 year old widow

September 23, 2009 by Guest

My husband passed away and was on disability, I have filed for disability and been turned down twice so he has been my sole support since 2003. Am I eligible for survivors benefits.

Survivor benefits for 46-year-old widow

September 23, 2009 by David Luhman

Receipt of survivor benefits depends on your situation, but survivor benefits may be difficult unless you are caring for a surviving child who is younger than age 16 or disabled.

You may be eligible for reduced widow benefits as early as age 60. If you are disabled, benefits can begin as early as age 50.

See this link for details :

I would consult Social Security directly for this.

Stay with SSDI or take "Reduced" Widow Benefit?

October 22, 2009 by Guest

I am a 47 year old disabled widow with no children. My SSDI benefits were calculated from my own personal earnings. It has been explained that I am eligible for survivors benefits when I turn 50 (instead of 60) due to being disabled, but it will be 75% of my husband's benefit unless I wait until age 67. If I were not disabled, the 75% survivor's benefit would begin at age 60 and gradually increase every year until the full retirement age of 67 for a healthy person, but this 7 year transition does not apply to a disabled person. I could survive "barely" if I were to receive my husbands benefit at the 100% but at 75% it is not much more than my current SSDI and will never increase past the 75% for the rest of my life - currently my Mom helps me but she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and the future looks to be perhaps very frightening... especially when I'm in my late sixties and everybody in my family is gone. Any thoughts? I know they have a bill presented during every new congress to change this, but it never seems to get anywhere. I read that the impact on Social Security to make this change would be less than .0001%

SSDI vs Widow Benefit

October 25, 2009 by David Luhman

It looks like the benefit available to disabled survivors at age 50 is 70.5 percent, not 75 percent, of the deceased worker's benefit amount.

You can receive widows/widowers benefits based on your age at any time between age 60 and your full retirement age as a survivor. However, if you start at an earlier age, your survivors benefits are reduced a fraction of a percent for each month before your full retirement age.

Here are two useful sources for this :

Last month my survivor benifits were cut

December 18, 2009 by Guest

My husband was a paraplegic, in a wheel chair, for the 131/2years of our marriage, when I applied for widows, benefits, after his death, I received
his full benefits and 1/2 of mine, now that has changed, reducing
my benefits, I am now, 75 years of age, and I was left with, a huge mortgage payment to pay, $220,000.00, still owed on it, and in addition to my social security benefits( which have been cut) I have to work part
time. It is very hard to survive, with medical expenses, which I have
been recently diagnosed as a diabetic. I need any additional, help, that I
am aware of that I am entitled to, through social security.
Is anyone listening? Where do the cuts stop, for the average working class of people in this country ??
Help needed,

C. Crisp

Widow's benefit

July 21, 2010 by Guest

I have just applied for my deceased husband's social security benefits. However, I am told they determined I will get $991.00 per month. the figures they use to determine this amount are what I get in social security benefits by working and $306 of his social security benefits. Why are they using my social security benefit to determine what I am due. From what I read, i am entitled to 100% of his benefits. They are using my benefits to compute the total I am due.

Widow's benefit

July 21, 2010 by David Luhman

Here is an excerpt on this :

The benefit amount is based on the earnings of the person who died. The more the worker paid into Social Security, the greater your benefits will be.
Social Security uses the deceased worker’s basic benefit amount and calculates what percentage survivors are entitled to. The percentage depends on the survivors’ ages and relationship to the worker. If the person who died was receiving reduced benefits, your survivor’s benefit is based on that amount. Here are the most typical situations:

  • A widow or widower, at full retirement age or older, generally receives 100 percent of the worker’s basic benefit amount;
  • A widow or widower, age 60 or older, but under full retirement age, receives about 71-99 percent of the worker’s basic benefit amount;

If you have a copy of you or your husband's latest Social Security Statement, you can compare the estimated benefit from the statement to what you were told. Here's a sample statement :

Surviror Benefits...PLEASE HELP!

August 22, 2010 by Guest

Here is my dilema. Husband passed away in 2003 leaving behind 4 children (one of which was not mine). We were common law married in Texas, but Social Security stated that I needed two of his blood relatives to testify that I was his wife, even though we lived together and raised our children for 14 yrs before he died. His family refused, so I was not able to receive benefits. What I am wondering now, after 7 years, is it too late to appeal this, and apply for widow's pension benefits?

The reason for that question is this: The oldest child, (the one that was not my child), got married a few years back, and so their benefits were transferred into my three children's checks so our benefits went up. When my oldest child turned 18 in 2009, her benefits stopped, and the money that we normally received for her rolled over into the two checks for the other two children who were still under 18. In Dec 2010, my son turned 18, so I assumed that the money would be combined into one check as it had been before, but what happened instead was devastating. They did not give me any warning, and cut my son's check completely, and so now we have been receiving half of the benefits that we normally received. When I called them to see if there was a mistake, they were not very good at explaining to me why this happened. They simply said that was just the way it worked. Is there anything that can be done? I don't understand the Social Security laws at all, and am very frustrated.

I have still not remarried, and the oldest two children (ages 19 and 18) still live at home. I work full time, but it is still not enough to make ends meet. I was just wondering if there was a way I could possibly apply for widow's pension or somehow appeal the decision to cut our benefits in half.


Family maximum and survivor benefits

August 23, 2010 by David Luhman

With 3-4 children, it sounds like the total survivor benefits were limited by the "family maximum".

The benefit amount the children receive was based on the father's earnings. The more he paid into Social Security, the greater survivor benefits will be. However, there is a limit to the amount of money that can be paid each month to a family. The limit is normally referred to as the "family maximum." This limit varies, but it is generally between 150 and 180 percent of the deceased's benefit amount. If the sum of the benefits payable to the children is greater than this limit, each of you will receive a benefit amount that is proportionately reduced.

As survivors "graduate" (stop receiving) survivor benefits, the TOTAL paid to ALL the children may drop, but the INDIVIDUAL amount paid to EACH child may rise as total payments fall under the family maximum.

A widow may receive full survivor benefits at full retirement age, or reduced benefits as early as age 60. A disabled widow may receive survivor benefits as early as age 50.

You may want to see here to learn about the appeals process. You may also wish to seek outside advice such as legal assistance.

Widows benefits

September 7, 2010 by Guest

I am confused! I was just approved for SS disability. I am a 54 year old widow. Is the check that I'll be receiving actually the widows benefits or is that something else I might qualify for? I guess what I'm confused about is whether you get two checks (1 for disability and 1 for widows benefits) or just one or the other.

Widow's benefits for disabled widow

September 7, 2010 by David Luhman

You'll want to double-check with the SSA to determine your exact benefits.

However, note that widow's benefits are generally not granted to widows until age 60 UNLESS the widow is disabled. For the case where a widow is disabled, survivor benefits can be received as early as age 50.

Widow's Benefit Question

September 9, 2010 by Guest

I applied for SS benefits at 62. That same year, my husband who also had started receiving his benefits at 62, passed away at 68.. Then my benefit amount was recalculated and included part of mine and part of his.
I continued to work part time for several more years, but instead of increasing my benefit amount, Social Security decreased the amount I was getting from his record and increased the amount from my record, so that my income always remained the same whether I contributed more into the system or not.
This is not fair and I wonder if there is any way it can be changed? I finally gave up working part time as it wasn't helping me financially at all. In fact, it just cost me more in taxes.

Earnings limit on Social Security retirement benefits

September 9, 2010 by David Luhman

Yes, the "Earnings Limit" is something I never understood. I believe it was instituted to discourage seniors from working so as to open jobs for younger folks. But oddly, the earnings limit disappears (no disincentive) when you reach full retirement age (FRA).

Here are some details on the earnings limitation :

If you are under normal (or full) retirement age (FRA), when you start getting your Social Security payments, $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $2 you earn above the annual limit. For 2010 that limit is $14,160.

In the year you reach your FRA, $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $3 you earn above a different limit, but only counting earnings before the month you reach FRA. For 2010, this limit is $37,680.

Starting with the month you reach FRA, you will get your benefits with no limit on your earnings.

Here's details on this, including a calculator which will show you the effect of the earnings limitation :

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