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  • We understand Grief

    No one understands my overwhelming sense
    of sadness and depression. I’m walking
    through life in a fog.

    The impact of losing your husband is indescribably painful,
    a feeling like you’ve never had before, and desperately want
    to move beyond…but can’t seem to find the wherewithal to do so.
    The W Connection’s unique outreach program and peer-to-peer
    support groups will connect you to a network of other women
    who can relate to your loss, sharing their experiences to help you
    through this very difficult time

  • help with Uncertainty

    Will I ever be whole again? What will become of me
    now that I have lost my life mate, my other half?

    Losing your spouse is devastating enough; now you have to face
    an uncertain future, even an uncertainly identity.
    Every aspect of your life is now different – from finances to
    childcare to career to your social life, to your emotional and
    physical well-being.

    The W Connection provides answers and suggestion through its
    referral services and online training programs.

  • Support for Widows

    My friends and family do so much,
    but I don’t want to become a burden.
    Who will truly understand enough
    to help me through this?

    Maybe friends and family are there for you
    but as time passes, they have to resume to their
    normal lives. But for you, there is no “normal.”
    The W Connection’s peer to peer support groups
    and its Advice Exchange provide the help and
    guidance you need.

  • Connect with other widows

    How do I start over? Is there a reboot
    button I can just click? Where will I
    find the people who will understand
    my unique needs?

    Your loss is different than everyone else’s.
    Finding other like-minded women might feel like
    the hardest thing to do. Through the W Connection
    you'll meet others who’ve been where you are.
    Your story will resonate with women ready
    to help you adapt to your new life.

  • Rebuild your life

    How will I ever rebuild my life? It feels like such
    as an insurmountable task.

    We had no choice about becoming widows but we do have a
    choice about how we live the rest of lives.
    Though we can’t go back to our old lives, by sharing our
    experiences with each other, we begin to feel open to the great
    possibilities ahead.
    The W Connection provides tools and techniques to help you
    rebuild your life and learn to live on your own.

Get Educated

Please enjoy this article with helpful information on collecting social security.

Applying for Survivor Benefits as a Widow or Widower

When a loved one passes, the last thing you should worry about is finances. As a surviving spouse a worker who qualified for Social Security, you can draw benefits under his or her work record. Benefits may be paid to you through the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability or retirement programs, dependent upon your specific circumstances. You may qualify at age 50 or even sooner, if you and your spouse have a child that also receives support through the SSA’s programs.

How a Worker Qualifies for Social Security.

To qualify for survivors’ benefits, your spouse must have worked and paid Social Security taxes. These taxes accumulated as work credits (http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/glossary/work-credits) and your spouse must generally have had between 20 and 40 credits available at the time of his or her passing in order for Social Security benefits to be available to you as a survivor. The amount of work your spouse needs to qualify will depend on his or her age, as the SSA does not expect a 30-year-old adult to have worked as long as a 60 year old.

Survivor Disability Benefits

To qualify for disability benefits as a widow or widower, you must meet the SSA’s medical eligibility rules AND one of the following criteria:

  • You are at least 50 years of age and have a disability that started before your spouse passed away
    OR
  • You are at least 60 years old
    OR
  • You and your spouse have a child under the age of 16.

If your spouse passes, you and your children could both be eligible for survivors’ benefits. Children can receive benefits until age 18, and spouses can receive benefits as a caregiver until the child turns 16.

Survivor Benefits and Retirement Benefits.

To maximize the amount of benefits you receive, you can actually draw survivors’ benefits and later switch to your own retirement benefits in time. If you delay drawing Social Security until age 70, you will receive 132% of your initial retirement payment, while drawing before age 66 or 67 will result in a reduced payment.

Widows age 60 and older are able to draw survivors’ benefits for as long as they’d like, and eventually switch to retirement benefits under their own account beginning at age 62. You cannot receive survivors’ and retirement benefits at the same time, but you can choose to receive whichever benefit is higher. A way to maximize your benefits could be to immediately draw survivors’ benefits for 10 years, then switch to your increased retirement benefits at age 70.

Benefit Eligibility if You Remarry

If you choose to remarry, you may or may not qualify for survivor benefits under the work record of your spouse. If you get disability benefits, you can remarry after age 50, without your new marriage affecting disability payments. If you receive survivor retirement benefits however, you cannot remarry before the age of 62 without your new marriage affecting eligibility under the work record of your former spouse.

Submitting an Application for Survivor Benefits

Although the SSA offers many services online these days, individuals applying for survivor benefits must participate in a personal interview with an SSA representative. Contact the SSA, if you’re applying for retirement benefits, or if you’re submitting an application for disability, consider reviewing Disability Starter Kit (https://www.ssa.gov/disability/disability_starter_kits_adult_eng.htm) and completing the Adult Disability Report before contacting the SSA. These steps can potentially speed up your application and get you a disability decision more quickly as well.

To schedule an application appointment, call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213, or schedule an appointment to visit your local SSA branch office.

Deanna Power is the Director of Outreach at Disability Benefits Help, an independent organization dedicated to helping people of all ages receive the disability benefits they need. If your family needs any help determining whether or not you qualify for survivors’ benefits, she can be reached at drp@ssd-help.org.

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