How Much Does A Widow(er) Get If Their Spouse Dies At Age 69 Without Having Drawn Retirement Benefits?

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Feb 11 2017 - 7:15am

You are the higher income earner and file for restricted spousal benefit(when you are 66 while your spouse is 64)
And you die at 69 before you switch to your own earned benefit; what will you spouse get for survivor benefit?
Looking forward to hearing from you
Thanks in advance Joe

Hi Joe,

The surviving spouse in your example would be at least full retirement age at the time their spouse's death. Therefore, their widow(er)'s rate would be 100% of the benefit amount that their spouse would have been eligible for had they started drawing their benefits in the month of their death. The widow(er) would not receive both their own benefit amount and the widow(er)'s benefit, just the higher of the two.

For example, say John has a full retirement age benefit amount (PIA) of $2000, and his wife Jane has a PIA of $800. Jane starts drawing retirement benefits at age 64 at a reduced rate of $693. John files a restricted application for spousal benefits only at age 66 and receives $400 per month. John then dies in the month he attained age 69. Jane would be eligible for a widow's rate of $2480 (i.e. $2000 x 1.24), which is the amount that John would have been eligible for, inclusive of delayed retirement credits, had he started drawing his own benefits at age 69. Technically, Social Security would continue to pay Jane her own rate of $693 plus an excess widow's benefit of $1787 to give her a combined rate of $2480.

Best, Jerry