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Program Description

Are you the surviving spouse or surviving divorced spouse of an insured worker who died? Are you also caring for the worker’s child? If so, you may be able to get Social Security Mother's or Father's Insurance Benefits.

General Program Requirements

As a surviving spouse with a child in care, you must meet the conditions below to qualify:

  • Be the widow(er) of an insured worker.
  • Be unmarried..
  • Meet the marriage duration requirement.
  • Care for the worker’s child who is one of the following:
    • Under age 16, or
    • Disabled and entitled to child's insurance benefits on their record.

If you’re a surviving divorced spouse, the child in your care must be the worker’s natural or legally adopted child who is entitled to the child’s benefits. You must also meet the conditions below:

  • Have a final divorce decree.
  • Were married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years.
  • Be entitled to a lower Social Security retirement benefit on your own record.
  • Not be entitled to a widow(er)’s benefit.

Other terms and conditions also apply. You can get more information through the links provided below.

Application Process

Visit the Information You Need to Apply for Mother’s or Father’s Benefits – Form SSA-5 page for details on how to apply.

To find out what other Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits you may qualify for, use the SSA Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST) on Benefits.gov. When you complete the questionnaire, you get a list of benefits to review. You can print this page for your records.

When you know which benefits you may apply for, click Apply for Social Security Benefits to apply online. You can also call the phone numbers below to learn more about SSA benefits and how to apply.

Last Updated: 08/08/2018