When Can I Qualify For Widower's Benefits?

Apr 7 2017 - 6:00am

My wife passed about 7 years ago from Cancer and my daughter and I started getting Social Security Survivors benefits at that time. I am working and make to much to qualify but my daughter is receiving the monthly benefit until she's 18 I believe. I actually switched careers this last summer and while I wasn't working qualified for spousal survivor benefits and was paid for a few months until I found work. I am under the understanding that I will be eligible for these benefits until my daughters 16 and then if I am still unmarried I will still qualify for these benefits at a certain age again? What age? Based on my work experience I too qualify for SSI, but not as much as hers was when she passed. Can I take my benefit at age 60 and then switch to her benefit later on and get more SSI income?

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

The earliest that you can qualify for widower's benefits without having a child in care is at age 60, or at age 50 if you become disabled. And, the earliest that you could qualify for retirement benefits on your own record is at age 62.

Your best filing strategy is likely one of the following:
1) File for reduced widower's benefits at age 60, then switch to your own record at age 70; or,
2) File for reduced retirement benefits on your own account at age 62, then file for unreduced widower's benefits at your full retirement age.

If you are still working when you become eligible for benefits, these strategies may need to be adjusted due to the Social Security earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html). The maximization software is programmed to deal with all of these issues, so it can help you determine which of the above filing strategies is best, and when you should apply for each type of benefit.

Best, Jerry