What Happens To My Spousal Benefit If My Wife Dies?

Jan 27 2017 - 5:00am

My wife and I are both age 66. She started receiving her benefits at age 62 and I am receiving a spousal benefit on her record (equal to one-half of her FRA) while waiting until age 70 to file for my own benefit. What happens if sometime between now and age 70 (say when we are both age 68), my wife dies? Does my spousal benefit just continue unchanged? Do I have an option at that point to start receiving the benefit she had been receiving (which would be higher than my spousal benefit) or even her full amount since I had never filed for early benefits on my own record? Or is my only option at that point to start receiving my own benefit earlier than planned?

Hi,

If your wife dies before you file on your own record, your spousal benefits would convert to widower's benefits. Your monthly rate would then likely increase to 82.5% of your wife's full retirement age rate, since your wife started her benefits at age 62 (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0300615320).

Best, Jerry