When Do You Think I Should Claim My Benefits?

Feb 27 2017 - 6:00am

I am 61 and 6 months old. My full retirement age is 65 and 2 months. I am planning on collecting widow's benefits. My first husband died in 1985 on our 5th anniversary day. I had 2 babies with a third on the way. We were able to survive on SS survivor benefits. I was a stay at home mom for awhile and then worked at a private school for the kids tuition. In 1998 I remarried and had another son. This marriage ended in divorce in 2004. I am not able to collect benefits from my ex husband because we were not married 10 years. I was told I could collect widow's benefits because when my first husband died we were still married. Even though I have been working various jobs for the last 10 years I have only made minimum wages. I have a college degree too. Sad. I have been working full time the last 3 years and make $12.75/hour. I need the job especially for the insurance. I have an IRA and a Roth IRA and contribute the maximum of 10% per week to my 401k. I was told that my first husbands benefits would be more than my work history. I was told that if I wait until 65 and 2 months to collect SS widow benefits I would get around $350 more per month than if I claimed it now. I was told the benefit amount would go up $7/month if I waited. When do you think I should claim for maximum benefits? I work in a Publix bakery an am getting a little tired of it. Thanks, Janis

Hi Janis,

First off, assuming you were born in 1955, your full retirement age for retirement benefits is 66 & 2 months, and your full retirement age for widow's benefits is 66.

Based on the limited information in your question, my guess is that your best strategy would be to file for reduced retirement benefits on your own record at age 62, and then file for unreduced widow's benefits at age 66. But, if your own retirement rate at age 70 would be higher than your unreduced widow's rate, it could be better to take reduced widow's benefits now, and then switch to retirement benefits at age 70.

You may want to consider running the maximization software available on this website to make sure that you choose the best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry