Can I File On My Wife's SS Without It Affecting My Benefits?

Apr 21 2020 - 10:25am

My wife died unexpectedly of pancreatic cancer... SS paid 275 (I think) for her burial.. 3 months later I was diagnosed with terminal esophageal cancer. I was 57 then... SS told me I could file on my wife's SS benefits when I was 60 and even gave me the paper work to fill out. But now I'm onSSi disability.. can I still file on her SS... Without it effecting my benefits? Thanks GF

Hi GF,

I'm sorry for your loss, and sorry to hear about your illness.

If a person applies for more than one type of Social Security benefit (e.g. disability & survivor), they can only be paid the higher of the two benefit rates. Therefore, you couldn't qualify for widower benefits in addition to your own Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits unless your widower rate would be higher than your SSDI rate.

If a person dies prior to full retirement age (FRA), any unreduced widow(er) benefits payable on their record are calculated based on 100% of the deceased person's primary insurance amount (PIA). SSDI benefits are also paid at 100% of the recipient's PIA, so the only way you'd be eligible for widower benefits is if your wife's PIA is higher than your PIA. Social Security should be able to tell you whether or not your wife's PIA is higher than yours, and if so you'd want to file for widower's or disabled widower's benefits ASAP.

Best, Jerry