Q&A: Her dead ex’s kids can’t dictate benefits

Dear Liz: My husband and I were living apart but not legally separated when he passed away. He was receiving disability benefits. His children, who are grown, tell me I am not eligible for widow or survivor benefits and that only they can collect his benefits. I am disabled myself and 51. Do their claims hold any weight? Could he have removed me as a recipient?

Answer: No and no. The children are wrong, not just about your eligibility for benefits but also about their own. Social Security survivor benefits typically aren’t available to children over 18, but they are available to widows and widowers starting at age 60, or starting at 50 if the spouse is disabled.

As long as you weren’t divorced, you would be eligible for survivor benefits. And if you had divorced, you could still be eligible for survivor benefits if the marriage lasted at least 10 years.

You can call the Social Security toll-free number at (800) 772-1213 for more information.

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Comments

  1. There is no need for the “children” to know if you are applying to receive survivor benefits. Quietly contact Social Security to get accurate information about your widow benefits. Your husband could not remove you as a recipient of benefits. Apply for your survivor benefit, and keep your own counsel. Your dealings with Social Security are private.