Can I Collect Any Of My Deceased Wife's Benefits If I'm Still Working?

Jun 23 2020 - 2:20pm

My wife passed away in 2016 I will be 63 in September and I'm still working can I collect any of her benefits and start collecting my benefits at 66 and 6 months

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

The answer to your question depends on your potential benefit rate, and how much you earn. If you file for widower benefits prior to full retirement age (FRA), your benefits could be subject to full or partial withholding based on Social Security's earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/whileworking.html). If you file for benefits prior to the year in which you reach FRA, $1 of your benefits would be withheld for each $2 that you earn in excess of the earnings test exempt amount. In 2020, the earnings test exempt amount is $18,240.

It sounds like your best strategy for claiming benefits would likely be one of the following:
1) File for reduced widower benefits now 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 now or as soon as your earnings will permit at least some benefits to be paid, then file for unreduced widower benefits at 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 it's highest potential rate. Our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) could help sort all of this out for you so that you can determine the best strategy for maximizing your benefits.

Best, Jerry