Ask Larry

Can I Collect Widow's Benefits At Age 60 If I'm Still Working Full Time?

My husband had been on disability for about 10 years, he passed away at 64 years of age. I am now 56 and want to know the exact laws regarding the widow benefit. If at 60 I claim the benefit can I still work full time and collect his s.s.? Thanks,


Hi Dana,

I'm sorry for your loss.

You could potentially qualify for widow's benefits as early as age 60, but whether or not you could actually be paid any benefits then depends on your benefit rate and the amount that you're earning. Until you reach full retirement age (FRA) the Social Security earnings test can cause either full or partial withholding of your benefit if you earn too much. In 2019, for example, people who are under FRA for the entire year can earn up to $17,640 without losing any of their benefits. But, $1 of benefits would need be withheld for each $2 that their earnings exceed that amount. Furthermore, if you claim widow's benefits prior to FRA your benefit rate will be reduced for age. That reduction would amount to 28.5% if you file right at age 60.

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

Nov 7 2019 - 1:46pm
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