Can My Wife Keep Drawing Spousal Benefits Until Her FRA If I Die Before Then?

Aug 7 2018 - 7:51am

My wife never worked. If I draw early SS benefits, (age 64) and she draws early Spousal benefits, (age 62) and I die, can she continue with spousal benefits until reaching FRA and then file for Widow benefits? 82.5% of my PIA is $1900 and my early benefit is $2000. How does her age affect this if not at her FRA?



No, spousal benefits are auxiliary benefits paid on the record of a living spouse. You can't receive auxiliary benefits on the record of a deceased spouse, although you could receive survivor benefits instead.

If your wife is drawing spousal benefits and you die, her benefits will automatically convert to widow's benefits and her widow's rate will be determined based on her age at the time of your death. However, if you start drawing your benefits before full retirement age (FRA) your wife's widow's rate would be limited to no more than the higher of a) 82.5% of your PIA (primary insurance amount), or b) your reduced retirement rate. If your figures are accurate, that would be your reduced retirement rate of $2000. If you die before your wife reaches FRA, her widow's rate would be calculated as the lower of a) your reduced retirement rate, or b) your PIA reduced for age (at a rate of roughly 4.75% per year) based on your wife's age at the time of your death.

Before filing, you and your wife should strongly consider using our maximization software to explore and compare all of your filing options so that you can choose the strategy that would be best for both of you in the long run.

Best, Jerry