Can My Mother Claim Survivor Benefits On My Father's Record?

Sep 17 2019 - 3:22pm

Hi Larry,

My mother was born in 1954, she started to claimed the retirement earlier this year 2019, her benefit is about $1,100.00 a month, and she is not working. My father died in November 2018. I'd like to know if she can claim the survivor spousal benefit (my father benefits was about $900.00 while he was alive, he was born 1945).

Thank you in advance for your time.
Kim

Hi Kim,

I'm sorry for your loss.

Your mother wouldn't be eligible for any survivor benefits if she's drawing a higher benefit rate on her own record than the amount that she could receive on your father's record, and based on the figures cited in your question that appears to be true in your mother's case. However, based on those figures it sounds like your mother may have been better off in the long run if she had filed for survivor benefits first and waited until age 70 to claim her own benefits. If she'd done so her own benefit rate would have continued to grow until she reached age 70.

Your mother could potentially withdraw her application if she does so within 12 months of her initial month of entitlement to benefits, but she would have to repay any benefits that she's drawn to date (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/withdrawal.html). Then, assuming that your mother meets the eligibility requirements for widow's benefits (https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.04/handbook-0401.html), she could potentially draw those benefits while letting her own benefit rate grow until age 70. However, your mother likely couldn't claim widow's benefits for any months prior to the month in which she applies for them.

Your mother may want to consider using our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) to compare her options so that she can decide on her best course of action.

Best, Jerry