Can I Collect Now On My Own Record And Switch To Widow's Benefits At FRA?

Dec 20 2016 - 7:30am

I am retired, turning 62 next week and my husband passed away in 2009 at age 55. I didn't work as long or make as much as my late husband so my benefits are considerably less than his so I wondered if I can collect my benefits now at a reduced rate and then switch to his at full retirement age so I can collect some of what I paid in and not reduce what I will receive from his?

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

The answer to your question is yes, although technically you wouldn't 'switch to widow's benefits' when you subsequently apply for widow's benefits. Instead, you would continue drawing your own benefit, plus an excess widow's benefit equal to the difference between the 2 benefit rates. Your total benefit rate would then be equal to the higher widow's rate.

Provided that your own benefit rate would never be higher than your potential widow's benefit rate, filing on your own record at age 62 and then filing for widow's benefits when you reach full retirement age is very likely to be your best strategy. Before filing, though, you may want to consider running the maximization software available on this website to be sure that you're choosing the best option.

Best, Jerry