Survivor's Benefit for disabled widow_widower and disabled surviving divorc

Survivor’s Benefit for Disabled Widow/Widower and Disabled Surviving Divorced Spouse

Widows or Widowers (and Surviving Divorced Spouses) can collect a Social Security benefit on their spouse or divorced spouse’s account at age 50 if they are disabled. This benefit allows these individuals with disabilities to collect earlier than they would otherwise be allowed.

Funding Source

Survivor’s benefits for disabled widows/widowers and disabled surviving divorced spouses are paid by the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund.  Funds are collected through employer and employee contributions, commonly known as “FICA taxes” “payroll taxes” or “Social Security taxes”.  Funds are allocated to this Fund and the Disability Insurance Fund and that allocation is set by law.  Over the years, Congress has changed this allocation to account to assure continued solvency of either fund.

In 2012, individuals pay 4.2% of their earnings up to $110,100 and employers pay 6.2% of the individual income up to the same amount.  The 2% differential, known as the “payroll tax holiday”, is set to expire after 2011 and individuals will pay 6.2% again.  In 2012, self-employed individuals pay 10.4% of their earnings, down 2% as well.  The “payroll tax holiday” is currently being funded by general revenues.


  • Age 50 to, and not including, age 60.
  • Be the widow of deceased worker who earned enough credits or
  • Be the surviving divorced spouse (usually 10 years of marriage and not remarried, unless newer marriage occurred after age 50 and when disabled) of a deceased worker who earned enough credits.
  • Meet the definition of disability before a prescribed period of time.
  • The prescribed period of time begins with the latest of the spouse’s death, the last month of entitlement to mother or father’s benefits, or the last month of previous entitlement to disabled widow or widower’s benefits that terminated because disability ceased.
  • The prescribed period of time ends with the earliest of the month before the      month the individual turns 60 or the close of the 84th month after the prescribed period began.

How Benefit Amount is Calculated

Social Security pays disabled widow or widower 71.5 percent of the worker’s basic benefit amount. The total family benefit is usually a maximum of 150 to 180 percent of the worker’s basic benefit amount.