I'm a widow, if i become disabled, can I collect on late husbands pension and Social Security?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 16, 2016
Vangundytina asked...

im bi polar with problems a widow im 53 can i collect late husbands ss and pension

Expert Answers

Whether you can collect any benefits based on your husband's Social Security work record and on his private pension are separate questions. Let's take Social Security first. If your husband worked and paid enough Social Security taxes during his lifetime (most people do -- only 10 years of work, at any pay level, is required), then he would have earned the right to collect Social Security retirement benefits. As his widow, you will have the right to collect what are called survivors benefits, which are the same amount as his retirement benefits would have been. However, you can begin collecting survivors benefits only when you reach age 60. (By the way, the benefits will be lower if you claim them at age 60 than if you wait to claim them later; the benefits would increase for each year after age 60 that you wait to claim them, up to age 70.) If you become disabled yourself, this does not entitle you to collect those survivors benefits any earlier. However, if you have yourself worked, you may be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits based on your own work record, if you can no longer work.

As for collecting benefits based on your husband's pension plan through his private employer, that all depends on the terms of the specific pension plan. You might be able to collect survivors benefits under his pension plan as early as age 50 or 55, or you may have to wait until you are older. also, whether you can collect survivors benefits under his pension plan may depend on whether he worked long enough for the company. To find out what the rules are regarding his private pension and possible survivors benefits, contact the human resources or benefits office of the company itself.