I am a 56 year old male, just trying to plan for my retirement. my wife of 8 years passed away in 2012. I have heard rumors that I can apply for her benefits at age 60. she had minor children that drew her ssn. they are now adults. can I still receive her benefits? thank you for your input.
I'm sorry for your loss.
Yes, you could potentially file for widower's benefits as early as age 60, or possibly even sooner if you become disabled. The fact that your wife's children previously received survivor benefit on her record wouldn't have any bearing on your widower's benefits. The requirements for entitlement to widower's benefits are outlined in the following section of Social Security's handbook: https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.04/handbook-0401.html.
If you do file for widower's benefits at age 60, your benefit rate will be reduced by 28.5% from the full retirement age (FRA) amount, and your benefits could be subject to full or partial withholding based on Social Security's earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html) until you reach FRA. It's also possible that it might be a better strategy to file for your own retirement benefits at age 62 and wait until FRA to file for widower's benefits, depending on your and your wife's relative benefit rates. Before filing, you should strongly consider using our software to explore and compare your options in order to determine your best plan for claiming your benefits.
By the way, my answer presumes that you were still married to your wife at the time of her death. If you were divorced, you'd need to have been married for at least 10 years in order to potentially qualify for survivor benefits on her record.