I claimed my widow's benefit when I was 60 and receive about $1000. It is not enough to live on and I would like to return to my career now that the economy is better where I can earn close to $90K. Can I stop my widow's payments somehow and earn my own money? From what I see, it looks like I will be penalized (ie: taxed) so heavily that it wouldn't be worth it or fair compensation for the level of work I CAN do. Any suggestions? I am now 62.
If you'll be returning to a high paying job, all that you'd need to do to suspend your benefits would be to let Social Security know when you'll start work and how much you'll be earning. The Social Security earnings test would require $1 of your benefits to be withheld for each $2 that you earn in excess of $17,640 in 2019, so if you earn anywhere close to $90K then you wouldn't be eligible for any benefits this year. You can't voluntarily suspend your benefits, though, and you almost certainly wouldn't want to unless it's required due to your earnings.
If you do return to work and some or all of your widow's benefits must be withheld due to the earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html), your widow's rate will be recalculated after you reach your full retirement age (FRA) in order to remove the age reduction for any months that you aren't paid benefits. And, when you reach FRA you can draw all of your benefits no matter how much you earn.
If your own Social Security retirement benefit rate will be higher than you're widow's rate, your best strategy would likely be to wait until age 70 to switch to your own record. Your retirement benefit rate will continue to grow until you reach age 70, and any additional Social Security covered earnings you have in the future could further increase your retirement benefit rate. You may want to consider using our software to explore your options. The software could help you determine what effect returning to work would have on your benefits and your benefit rate.