Can I Apply For My Own Benefits And Also Get Part Of My Deceased Spouse's Benefits?

Oct 16 2020 - 2:28pm

I read on one of the links that if your spouse had passed and when applying to benefits that you could be entitled for part of your spouse benefits included with your benefits. When I asked the question to the analyst that assisted me I was told that I had to chose which one that I wanted to receive. Thank you


You're allowed to file for both your own benefits and for survivor benefits simultaneously, but there's generally no good reason to do so. If you qualify for 2 different types of Social Security benefits at the same time, you can only be paid essentially the higher of the 2 benefit rates. If you're eligible for both your own benefits and for a higher survivor benefit and if you file for both benefits, Social Security would pay you your own benefit plus a partial survivor benefit equal to the difference in the 2 benefit rates. So, in other words, you'd be paid the same total amount as you would have been paid if you had applied only for the higher survivor benefit.

You don't mention your age or potential benefit rates, so I can't give you any specific advice. But, in most cases the best filing strategy for a person who's eligible for both their own benefits and survivor benefits is one of the following:
1) File for reduced survivor benefits as early as 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 as early as age 62 or as soon as your earnings will permit at least some benefits to be paid, then file for unreduced survivor benefits at your full retirement age (FRA).

Normally, you would want to start out drawing the lower benefit first and then switch to the higher benefit when it reaches its highest potential rate. Our software ( could help sort all of this out for you so that you can determine the best strategy for maximizing your benefits.

Best, Jerry