Can My Wife File For Reduced Benefits On Her Own And Switch To Widow's Benefits When I Die?

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Sep 6 2016 - 11:15am

I am 71 and my wife 56. I have been receiving SS payments since I turned 66 (Full retirement age). My wife is retired and will start receiving a pension when she turns 57. She wants to collect her own SS benefit at 62. Can she switch to my benefits when I die and collect my full benefit instead of hers. Thanks, Keith

Hi Keith,

Yes, she can. In order to be eligible for your full benefit, though, she'd need to be at least full retirement age when she becomes entitled to the widow's benefit. Reduced widow's benefits can be paid as early as age 60, or even 50 if the widow is disabled.

You mention that your wife will be receiving a pension, and some government pensions can cause a reduction in widow's benefits (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10007.pdf). That won't be a problem for your wife as long as the employer paying the pension also withheld Social Security taxes from her earnings.

Best, Jerry