Q: I lost my wife 3 years ago, she was 62. I am 55 and am not able to work anymore. Can I draw her Social Security now, or am I to young?
A: Unfortunately, I have seen this (or similar) questions much too often lately. Whether it’s due to the loss of a spouse, the poor economy, or a disability, many people are wondering if there is any way to collect Social Security before the traditional retirement age.
The answer will depend on your own unique circumstances. In your case, you are too young for retirement benefits (age 62), and you don’t qualify for widow benefits until age 60 (unless you are caring for a dependent child). However, you mentioned that you are no longer able to work. Depending on the reason you are unable to work, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits or even SSI.
Social Security disability benefits are available to people who are unable to work due to an illness or disability that is expected to last for at least one year or that will lead to death. If you qualify, you may be eligible for monthly benefits, and Medicare (you must be disabled for 2 years or age 65 to qualify for Medicare).
SSI is a program for people with low income who are either disabled or age 65 or older. The financial requirements for SSI are pretty strict, and you must meet the definition of disabled since you are under age 65. You may or may not qualify depending on your circumstances, but I wanted you to be aware of SSI in case you do qualify.