Am I Able To Collect Benefits Based On My Deceased Husband's Record?

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May 31 2017 - 8:09am

I am a 62 year old widow. I have been receiving a death benefit from the State of Florida Retirement System since my husbands death in February of 2000. I was 45 years old when I began receiving this benefit and he was 46 when he passed. I am now having difficulty finding adequate work and have been looking at Social Security benefits. I basically have two questions - (1) Will I be able to collect Social Security benefits now also through my husbands business? He would have been 63 years old. (2) Will yes, will it reduce my current death benefit that I am now receiving? (3) I have worked on several jobs (off and on) since I have been living in Georgia (from 2000 until now) because I keep getting terminated from employment. I am currently unemployed and am having difficulty finding work. How will this impact my application for my own Social Security benefits in a few years, if at all? I appreciate your help!
Thanks Crystal

Hi Crystal,

You may be eligible for Social Security widow's benefits if your husband paid Social Security taxes on his earnings long enough to be insured for benefits. If you are eligible for widow's benefits, your best strategy would likely be one of the following:
1) File for reduced retirement benefits now, and then file for unreduced widow's benefits at age 66; or,
2) File for reduced widow's benefits now, and then switch to your own record at age 70.

The maximization software available on this website can help you determine which of these strategies may be best in your case.

I don't know whether or not any type of Social Security benefits would cause a reduction in the survivor benefits you receive from the state of Florida. You should probably check with the agency that handles those payments.

Your Social Security retirement benefits will be based on your highest 35 years of wage-adjusted earnings (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10070.pdf). Your primary insurance amount (PIA) won't go down if you stop working or work part-time, but it won't increase unless you earn more than in one or more of your previous highest 35 earnings years.

Best, Jerry