Did I Make A Mistake By Starting My Benefits 4 Months Prior To FRA?

Oct 12 2019 - 5:19pm

I filed for SS benefits in January 2018 at age 65 and turned 66 (FRA) four months later in April 2018. My income was considerably lower than my husband, who is 6 months younger, and is also retired. He is currently drawing half of my benefit, after he turned FRA, and delaying his benefit. Did I make a mistake by drawing mine those four months early if he should die before me? Would I still be able to receive his larger benefit because he delayed? Thank you, Lucy

Hi Lucy,

It wasn't necessarily a mistake for you to claim your benefits early. You will retain a reduction in your benefit rate for as long as both you and your husband are living, though, even if you later qualify for additional spousal benefits when your husband starts drawing his own Social Security benefits.

However, assuming that your husband's benefit rate is higher than yours, the fact that you started drawing your benefits prior to your full retirement age (FRA) would not reduce your survivor rate that you would receive if your husband dies before you. Your survivor rate would include any delayed retirement credits that your husband earns by waiting to claim his benefits. So, if he lives at least until he's age 70 and he waits until then to claim his benefits, you would receive his full age 70 rate as a survivor. You couldn't receive that full amount plus your own benefit rate, though, just the higher of the two.

Best, Jerry