Can Social Security Prevent Me From Drawing Widow's Benefits?

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Sep 25 2019 - 3:07pm

Hello,
2009 my husband died. At that time, he had more credits with SSA then I had with SSA. 2019, I called SSA and asked them if I could start my widow benefits when I turned 60 on 11/01/2020 and still keep my job.

They said no to the job and no to obtaining widow benefits when I turned 60 because I now had more credits than my husband. They also said that I would never be able to draw on his SS benefits.

I'm face with retiring at 62 since I have medical issues but not enough to obtain SSI benefits.

Can SSA do this?

Thanks,
-Rhonda

Hi Rhonda,

Whether or not you could have been paid widow's benefits when you turned age 60 depends on whether or not your husband paid into Social Security long enough to be insured, and how much you were earning. If you file and qualify for widow's benefits prior to your full retirement age (FRA), $1 of your benefits would need to be withheld for every $2 that your earnings exceed the exempt amount of earnings allowed under Social Security's annual earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html). Therefore, depending on your level of earnings and your benefit rate, it's possible that your earnings could prevent you from receiving benefits prior to FRA.

In any case, if you stop working it certainly sounds like you could start drawing widow's benefits as long as your husband was insured for benefits, but your benefit rate would be reduced for age if you start drawing prior to FRA. If you're also insured for benefits based on your own work record you couldn't draw both your own benefits and a full widow's benefit at the same time, but you could file for one type of benefit now and then file for the other benefit later. If most cases it would be optimal to file for the lower benefit as soon as your earnings would permit the payment of at least some benefits, then file for the higher benefits when it reaches it's highest possible rate.

If you're disabled and you are insured for Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits, that could create additional potential filing options for you. You should strongly consider using our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) to compare all of your various options so that you can determine the best strategy for claiming your benefits.

Best, Jerry