Can I Collect Benefits On My Own Record At 63 And Switch To Widow's Benefits At Age 66?

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Feb 26 2017 - 7:15am

I am 63 and eligible to begin receiving benefits under my own name or that of my deceased husband. My benefit is considerably less than my spouse's. Can I collect the smaller amount in my name until I am 66 and then switch to the higher benefit of my husband?

Hi,

Essentially, yes you can, but you wouldn't actually switch to the higher widow's benefit. Social Security would continue to pay you your own benefit, plus an excess widow's benefit that would bring your combined rate up to the full widow's rate. Same effect, though.

However, your benefits prior to full retirement age could be subject to partial or full withholding if you are working and you earn too much (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html). Also, if your husband drew reduced retirement benefits prior to his death, you may not benefit by waiting until full retirement age to apply for widow's benefits.

You may want to strongly consider using the maximization software available on this website to help you determine your best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry