Because women have longer life expectancies than men and traditionally have married men a few years older, widowhood can often last 15 years or more, according to a Society of Actuaries’ report, “The Impact of Retirement Risk on Women.” The portion of women over age 85 who are widowed is more than 85%, compared to about 45% for men, who are more likely to remarry.
If your spouse (or ex-spouse) dies, you can get Social Security survivor benefits at age 60 or older. Your benefit amount depends on your age and the amount your deceased spouse was entitled to at time of death. If your spouse was receiving reduced Social Security benefits, your survivor benefit will be based on that amount. If you remarry before age 60, you can’t receive widow’s benefits unless your subsequent marriage ends.