Can My Mother Get Both Her Own Benefits And Widow's Benefits?

Category: 
Aug 12 2017 - 8:31am

My father (71, started collecting SS at 62) is about to pass (cancer) and my mom (married to my dad 49 years) retired at 66 yrs old (in 2015). They have been collecting both SS checks and my mom's is larger than my dad's. Will she be able to keep both checks going forward or is she only able to keep hers?

Hi,

I'm sorry to hear about your father's prognosis.

Unfortunately, the answer is no. The surviving member of a couple can only receive essentially the higher of their 2 benefit rates. If your mother's benefit rate is only marginally higher than your father's rate, she should probably double check with Social Security to make sure that her potential widow's rate would be lower than her own. There is also a one time death benefit of $255 that your mother will likely qualify for in the event of your father's death, and she would need to file an application for that.

Best, Jerry