Am I Understanding Everything Correctly?

Feb 25 2017 - 10:45am

Dear Larry,

Thanks for all your helpful info online. I am 65 and my wife passed away last year at age 61. I will earn about $50K this year. My wife's SS benefit at full retirement age would be around $16,500.00. If I am understanding everything correctly, I would be penalized 50% on all of my wages over $16,920.00. That means $50,000 minus $16,920 equals $33,080 divided by 2 equals $16,540.00 penalty. Bottom line: it makes no sense for me to apply for survivor's benefits this year as I would "fail" the earnings test.

If I apply next year after I turn 66, then I could take my wife's benefit for 4 years and delay taking my own benefit until I turn 70. If I live past around 75, then it works in my favor. Am I understanding everything correctly or am I missing something? I can't help but feel like the Social Security system is a complete rip-off. My wife contributed her entire working life and it essentially yielded absolutely nothing.


I'm sorry for your loss.

It sounds like you have a good basic understanding of your options, but you should strongly consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to make sure that you choose the very best filing strategy.

Social Security is social insurance against the loss of income resulting from death, disability or old age. In your wife's case, although she didn't receive any benefits from Social Security, it sounds like you will benefit from her contributions to the system in the form of survivor benefits.

Best, Jerry