How Much Will I Receive As A Survivor?

Dec 6 2016 - 6:15pm

My husband is 62 and 20 years older than I am. He is not working and I highly doubt he will work anymore. My projected SS benefit is significantly higher than his.

1. How much of his benefit, if any at all, will I receive as a survivor - assuming my SS benefit will not change and his will always be lower than mine?
2. Would you advise him to begin withdrawing now (e.g., so we can put that money toward larger life goals like buying a house)? This also could matter if I am not eligible to receive his benefits because my benefit is greater than his. Or...if you were in this situation, would you be seriously considering taking out the benefit early?

I know this is an individualized decision, but some of your thoughts, based on experience, will be nice for my toolbox.

Thank you so much.

Hi,

The answer to your first question depends on a number of factors. If you are already receiving higher benefits on your own record at the time of your husband's death, you would not receive survivor benefits other than a one-time death benefit of $255. However, if he was to die before you start drawing your benefits, you would probably want to file for widow's benefits first, and let your own benefit rate grow until you reach age 70. The amount of your potential widow's benefit would depend partly on when your husband decides to start drawing his benefits, as well as your age at the time you start drawing.

As you state, the answer to your second question is a personal decision. However, Larry urges people to plan for a worst case scenario, which could be outliving your available funds. Even if your husband isn't working, his Social Security benefit rate will continue get higher the longer he waits to start drawing, until it maximizes at age 70. So, he should at least consider waiting until then to apply.

You may want to run the maximization software available on this website before making any filing decisions. The software will allow both you and your husband to run various what-if scenarios, which should help you determine your best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry