What Can I Do?

Jan 12 2017 - 3:15pm

Larry,

Why is Social Security so broken. I recently lost my husband at 54. Social Security I thought was set up to help widows supplement the lost income (since it was his money in the first place). I get $255 which wouldn't even cover the flowers for his casket. Very sad for those who can't afford insurance etc. We actually were quit fortunate in that a very long time ago a boss told me only rely on yourself. Perfect advise. However, I am very concerned that the folks at the social security office have no earthly idea what they are doing either. First she told me my husband hasn't work in 2016 although he has worked since he was 15. Then she told me with the income I make I would have to pay 1/2 of my pay back to social security if I choose to collect benefits early from his. I am sorry I just do not understand why they think a widow should only be able to make almost 17,000 a year. Although they are taking a percent of your pay if you continue to work, she told me I would have to pay them back??? This is no benefit at all this is bend me over and I question why we are still paying into something that has no value to us in our "golden years". I believe social security is actually only set up for hell I have no idea since it will not benefit me. If anyone can make it on 17,000 a year in this messed up economy please do tell how. Not to mention the rate she gave me was obviously not from his highest income year; since he worked 3 jobs at one time for a few years.

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

You could qualify for reduced widow's benefits as early as age 60, or before that if you become disabled. Depending on your own benefit rate compared to your potential widow's benefit rate, your best strategy will likely be one of the following:
1) File for reduced widow's benefits at age 60 or as soon as your earnings permit payment under the Social Security earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html), then switch to your own record at age 70; or,
2) File for reduced retirement benefits on your own record at age 62, then file for widow's benefits at your full retirement age.

It's generally best to file for the lower benefit first, and wait to draw the higher benefit until it reaches it's maximum rate. Before you file, you may want to consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to make sure that you choose the best strategy.

Best, Jerry