Can I Receive Widows Benefits If I'm Still Working?

Category: 
Jul 15 2017 - 7:42am

I am a teacher in Texas not paying into the Social Security System. My husband just died. I just turned 60. Can I receive widows benefits if I am still working? I know I do not once I'm retired.

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

Whether or not you could receive benefits prior to full retirement age depends on your work and earnings. If you earn more than $16,920 this year, Social Security would withhold $1 of your benefits for each $2 that you earn in excess of $16,920 (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html). However, there is a special monthly test that may permit you to draw benefits for a few months if you don't work during the summer. The monthly test permits payment of benefits for any month in which a person earns less than $1410 this year, regardless of their total earnings (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/rule.html). But, the special monthly test can only be used in one calendar year.

As you apparently know, once you start receiving a pension from your non-covered teaching work your Social Security widow's benefits would likely be offset by 2/3rds of the amount of your teacher's pension. This is due to the Government Pension Offset (GPO) provision (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf).

The maximization software on this website is programmed to handle both the earnings test and GPO considerations, so you may want to use it to determine your best course of action with regard to Social Security.

Best, Jerry