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.