Your survivor benefit depends on the earnings history of your deceased spouse or ex-spouse. You qualify for survivor benefits as a spouse if you’ve been married for at least nine months prior to your spouse’s death, or if you were married to your ex-spouse for ten years or more. The more your deceased spouse or ex-spouse earned, the higher your benefit will be.

If you wait until full retirement age to collect your survivor benefits, you will receive 100 percent of your deceased spouse’s full retirement benefits. Your survivor benefits will be reduced if you take them early. If you take them at age sixty, your survivor benefits will be equal to 71.5 percent of your deceased spouse’s retirement benefits at full retirement age. If you’re disabled, you can take reduced survivor benefits at age 50 (71.5 percent of your deceased spouse’s benefits at full retirement age).