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Can I Expect To Receive A Higher Widow's Rate Than I Was Told Last Week?

Hi Larry, I bought your software a few years back to learn my best strategy for claiming Unreduced Widow's benefits (husband died at age 53 in 2006). Following your strategy I claimed at age 62 on my own work history while awaiting and growing my husband's larger claim. I reach FRA 01/2024. Two questions:

1) Three years ago, my local SS office ran the future numbers and came up with a monthly Widow PIA of $2,616 for my FRA 01/2024. Three years later I went back last week for an update (expecting a higher amount and 2022 COLA inclusion), and today's calculation is reduced $100 monthly to $2,516. When I inquired about the reduction, the clerk thought it would recalculate accurately next January when I claim. Can I expect to receive an adjusted amount higher than what I learned of in 01/2020 and of course, last week?

2) Since my husband died at age 53 and thus, missed out on contributing an additional 12 years of work will there be any higher adjustment for me due to his untimely early death?

Thank you so much for your knowledge.


Hi Sandy. I answer questions submitted to this forum, but I don't have access to any software customer data. Therefore, I have no way of knowing how much your unreduced widow's rate should be. You may want to resubmit your question using an online contact form from the help menu so that your question can be answered by one of our experts with access to your customer data.

I can tell you that based on my experience working for Social Security, almost all of the benefit rates calculated by Social Security are accurate. But, when you apply for your widow's benefits, if the amount that you are awarded appears to be incorrect you can file an appeal.

With regard to your second question, the basic answer is yes. When a worker dies prior to age 62, the survivor benefit rate payable from their record is based on a reduced number of earnings years to account for the fact that the worker didn't have an opportunity to work more years. For example, if your husband died at age 53, then your survivor rate would be calculated based on an average of his highest 26 years of earnings instead of the 35 year average that's used to calculate Social Security retirement benefits.

Furthermore, all Social Security cost of living (COLA) increases that occur after a worker's death are added when calculating survivor rates. Plus, an alternate wage-indexed computation method can be used to calculate widow's benefits if it yields a higher benefit rate than the normal computation method.

Best, Jerry

Feb 1 2023 - 4:43pm
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