Can I Apply For Widow's Benefits At Age 60, And On My Own Record At Age 70?

Jan 4 2017 - 5:30am

I am about to turn 60 on Feb 1st. My husband has been gone sadly 11 years. I was told that I can apply for his social security benefits now that I am turning 60 even though I still work & plan to till 70.

Is that so and if so he served during the Vietnam war - does that have any significance either when applying if this is true.


I'm sorry for your loss.

You can apply for widow's benefits at age 60, and then switch to your own record at age 70 if your own benefits are higher at that time. However, the Social Security annual earnings test ( may limit the amount of benefits that you can receive prior to full retirement age. Under the 2017 earnings test, you'll lose $1 of benefits for each $2 that you earn in excess of $16,920 this year, which could result in no benefits being payable if you earn too much.

This may or may not be your best filing strategy. You may want to consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to be sure.

The calculation of your widow's benefit rate will include extra deemed wages for the period that your husband was on active duty in the military. These deemed wages are automatically added starting with 1968, but proof of military service is needed for earlier periods of service. If your husband was on active duty prior to 1968, Social Security will likely ask you to furnish his discharge papers, specifically form DD-214.

Best, Jerry