When Would My Widow Be Eligible For My Full Benefit Rate?

Category: 
Apr 10 2017 - 5:45am

I am 68 now and have suspended my benefit until age 70. My wife is 59 1/2. If I die after turning 70 (my wife will be 61 1/2), at what age can my wife start to collect my full SS Benefit (assuming I live until at least 70). She was a very low income earner. At her full retirement age, her SS benefit would be only about $ 213.00, that is the main reason I am waiting until age 70 to start collection my benefit (so she can get a larger check each month after I die). Secondly, how does her Widow Benefit enter into all of this?

Hi,

Your wife would need to be at least full retirement age at the time she becomes entitled to widow's benefits in order to receive your full benefit rate. She would not receive both her own retirement benefit and full widow's benefits, though. She would just receive the higher of the 2 rates.

If you die before your wife reaches full retirement age, she would have the option of waiting until full retirement age in order to receive an unreduced rate. Or, she could start drawing reduced widow's benefits as early as age 60. For example, if your full benefit rate at age 70 is $2,000 and she started drawing widow's benefits at age 60, her reduced widow's rate would be about $1,430.

Assuming that you are still living when your wife reaches age 62, she would have the option of filing for reduced retirement and spousal benefits at that time. Or, she can wait until FRA to receive unreduced benefits. Whenever your wife files for either retirement or spousal benefits, though, she'll be deemed to have filed for both benefits and she'll essentially only receive the higher of the 2 rates (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/deemedfaq.html). You and your wife may want to consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to determine her best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry