Ask Larry

Am I Eligible To Take Widow's Benefits At Age 60?

Hi Larry my estranged husband was on SSD and getting 1700 a month and passed away 3 years ago. i have not remarried. At that time i was told i could receive widows benefit at 60 for 1600. Am I eligible to take widows benefits at 60? will it be reduced be cause of his SSD can I file and not touch my own SS until i'm at FRA or later? or will i be viewed as deeming and reduce my own benefit?


Yes, as long as you were married to your husband for at least 9 months and not divorced then it sounds like you'd be eligible for widow's benefits as early as age 60. In fact, if you're disabled you may even qualify sooner. Disabled widow's benefits can be paid as early as age 50. And, the fact that your husband received Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits won't have any adverse effect on your benefit rate.

If you file for widow's benefits at age 60 your benefit rate will be reduced by 28.5% from the amount that you'd receive if you waited until your full retirement age (FRA). Your FRA rate for widow's benefits would be equal to at least 100% of your husband's SSDI rate, inclusive of any cost of living increases that occur after his death.

Filing for widow's benefits does not trigger deeming of your own Social Security retirement benefits. It sounds like your best strategy for claiming benefits would likely be one of the following:
1) File for reduced widow's benefits at age 60 or as soon as your earnings will permit at least some benefits to be paid, then switch to your own record at age 70; or,
2) File for reduced retirement benefits on your own record at age 62 or as soon as your earnings will permit at least some benefits to be paid, then file for unreduced widow's benefits at full retirement age (FRA).

Normally, you would want to start out drawing the lower benefit first and then switch to the higher record when it reaches it's highest potential rate. Our software ( could sort all of this out for you and help you determine your optimal filing strategy.

Best, Jerry

Jul 19 2019 - 4:45pm
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