The death of a spouse is a traumatic time during which a lot of decisions must be made in a short period of time. Funeral expenses, debts and bills can add a greater burden on top of the distress of losing a spouse. Survivor spouse programs provide financial support to widows and widowers. These benefits can be given by private programs that require membership and by government programs such as Social Security. Pension benefit details and requirements will vary depending on the program.
Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program
The Office of Justice has programs for the surviving spouses of public safety officers. The Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program (PSOB) provides a one-time financial benefit to survivors of public safety officers who died as result of a severe injury sustained while on duty. In order to be eligible for benefits, the surviving spouse must provide proof of death of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, public rescue officer or ambulance worker who died in the line of duty, and then make claim with the department the deceased worked for. Payments to the surviving spouse will be made through the U.S. Department of Treasury by direct deposit or check within 15 days of the claim.
Bureau of Justice Assistance
Office of Justice Programs
810 Seventh Street NW.
Washington, DC 20531
VA Death Pension for Widows/Widowers
Veteran death pension benefits are given to needy widows and widowers in the event of the death of a veteran. Surviving spouses may be eligible for this pension if the deceased veteran was discharged from the service under conditions other than dishonourable and the veteran served at least 90 days of active military service with one day during wartime. The surviving spouse's income must be below the yearly limit set by Congress and the surviving spouse must be unmarried. Survival spouse benefits vary depending on the household income and are distributed in monthly payments. There are also additional benefits available for claimants who require help with everyday living functions, are bedridden, dwell in a nursing home, are blind or are nearly blind. These benefits are given on a monthly basis and must be applied for separately. To apply, applicants must fill out an application, which is available at the website, and send it to the listed mailing address.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20420
Social Security Benefits
The Social Security Administration has benefits available for surviving spouses and surviving divorced spouses. This benefit is available for spouses of deceased persons who have worked at least 10 years or have 40 credits of work. Surviving spouses must be at retirement age to collect full benefits unless they are caring for children of the deceased who are under the age of 16. Spouses may collect benefits at a reduced amount at age 60. If the spouse is disabled benefits can be collected at 50. Benefits for divorced spouses are paid to individuals 60 or older who were married at least 10 years to the deceased. To apply for benefits, the administration advises potential applicants to call or visit the local social security office in their area.
Social Security Administration
Office of Public Inquiries
Windsor Park Building
6401 Security Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21235