What Financial Aid Is Available to Widows?

In a time of grief, that last thing you should have to worry about as a widow is paying your bills. Unfortunately, your expenses won't stop. Government and non-profit assistance is available to help you with various needs.

Social Security Survivor Benefits

Widows may be entitled to Social Security survivor benefits if their spouse worked and paid into Social Security. The amount you can receive is based on:

  • whether the spouse had begun to collecting benefits before his death
  • the age the deceased spouse began collecting his benefits
  • the age of the surviving spouse

Widows are entitled to full survivor benefits at retirement age, which is based on your birth year. However, you can begin collecting benefits as early as age 60. If you are disabled, you can collect survivor benefits at age 50. Until you reach retirement age, you'll receive 71.5 to 99 percent of your spouse's benefit amount.

If you're taking care of your spouse's child who is under the age of 16, you get survivor benefits regardless of your age. The children do too if they're under 18 and unmarried. Contact Social Security at 800-772-1213 to apply. Online applications aren't accepted.

Social Security Lump Sum Payment

Widows are entitled to a lump sum benefit from the Social Security Administration. At the time of publication, the one-time benefit is $255. Although the benefit is sometimes associated with funeral or burial expenses, there are no restrictions on how you can use it.

You can complete the Application for Lump Sum Death Payment online, call 800-772-1213 or apply in-person at your local Social Security office. You'll need to provide your spouse's personal information and information your marriage.

Liz Logelin Foundation

The Liz Logelin Foundation is a non-profit organization that awards grants to widows with dependent children during the first year after the death. The funds are designed to help with the rent, mortgage, utility bills, school clothing or even things like a special family outing or an activity for the child. The application form is available on the website. Documents you must submit include:

  • birth certificates of children
  • death certificate of spouse
  • recent 1040 tax forms showing dependency of your children

American Widow Project

The American Widow Project provides support to military widows. According to the AWP, the mission is encourage peer-to-peer connections, which promote healing and growth. The project funds WidowU, which provides scholarship-based courses to military widows. Some of the available courses include:

  • Preparing for college
  • Health and fitness
  • Overcoming obstacles