Do I Get Any Survivor Benefits While I Continue To Work Until I'm 66?

Jul 3 2018 - 7:05am

We are both 64 and my wife was collecting SSDI until she suddenly died. I am working full time. Do I get any survivor benefits while i continue to work until i am 66? When I do retire and collect my SS do I get to collect as a survivor any percentage from what my wife was collecting? Thanks.

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

Whether or not you could get any widower's benefits now depends on your benefit rate and the amount of your earnings. If you'll be under age 66 throughout 2018 and you apply for widower's benefits, Social Security would withhold $1 of your benefits for each $2 that your 2018 earnings exceed $17040 (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html). In the year in which you turn full retirement age (FRA) you'd be permitted to earn a higher amount without losing any benefits, and the withholding rate would be $1 for every $3 of excess earnings. And, starting with the month you reach FRA you can draw benefits regardless of how much you earn.

Regardless of how much you're earning, though, you would likely be eligible for a one time death benefit of $255 on your wife's record. If you haven't already received that you should probably contact Social Security as soon as possible to file an application.

If you file for both retirement benefits on your own record and for widower's benefits you could only be paid the higher of those 2 benefit rates. Your best filing strategy is likely one of the following:
1) File for reduced widower's benefits now or as soon as your earnings will permit at least some benefits to be paid, then switch to your own record at age 70; or,
2) File for reduced retirement benefits now or as soon as your earnings will permit at least some benefits to be paid, then file for unreduced widower's benefits at your full retirement age.

Normally, you would want to start out drawing the lower benefit first and then switch to the higher record when it reaches it's highest potential rate. Our maximization software could sort all of this out for you and help you determine your optimal strategy.

Best, Jerry