Q. My husband was collecting disability Social Security for a couple of years and just passed away this week. He was 48. I am 44. Will I as his survivor/widow continue to receive any part of his disability Social Security? I do not have to wait until I am older to receive partial benefits, do I? We have one child who is 18 and no longer receives any of his benefits. We also have a 16-year-old foster daughter for whom we are legal guardians. Can I receive anything of my husband’s disability based on caring for her?
A. The Social Security Act provides two kinds of benefits to widows – retirement benefits and caregiver benefits.
Young widows with dependent children in their care receive caregiver benefits until the youngest child reaches age 16. A dependent benefit to a child remains in effect until the child reaches age 18, age 19 if still in high school. A Disabled Adult Child can continue to receive dependent benefits for life if the child is disabled before age 22. A mother caring for a Disabled Adult Child remains entitled to a benefit as long as the child remains in her care.
Other than the caregiver benefit, no monthly benefit is payable to a widow until she reaches retirement age. If you are unmarried, you will be eligible for a widow benefit based on your deceased husband’s Social Security earnings record when you reach age 60.
As a disabled widow you would be eligible for a widow benefit as early as age 50. If you remarry after age 60 (50 if disabled) you will remain entitled to a widow benefit based on your first marriage.
Had you adopted your foster daughter, she would be eligible for a Social Security dependent benefit through age 18, age 19 if in high school. Even if she were eligible, you would not be entitled to a caregiver benefit since she is over age 16.