She might qualify for assistance if there are children of the marriage.
If not, widows benefits don't typically start until the widow is age 60 or greater.
From the social Security Administration:
"If you are the widow or widower of a person who worked long enough under Social Security, you can:
receive full benefits at full retirement age for survivors or reduced benefits as early as age 60.
begin receiving benefits as early as age 50 if you are disabled AND the disability started before or within seven years of the worker's death.
Note: If a widow or widower who is caring for the worker's children receives Social Security benefits, he or she is still eligible if their disability starts before those payments end or within seven years after they end.
A widow, widower or surviving divorced spouse
cannot apply online for survivors benefits. If you wish to apply for disability benefits as a survivor, contact Social Security at 1-***-***-**** to request an appointment. (If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call our TTY number, 1-***-***-****.)"
http://www.ssa.gov/planners/survivors/ifyou2.html is the link to that and more information.
Sorry the law doesn't seem to offer any more immediate help.
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