How Can This Be?

Category: 
Oct 20 2017 - 6:12am

I am 60, I applied for widows benefits was denied because I am still working and they said I made to much money. Yet a co worker of mine is age 64, and she applied for Widows benefits and get was told the same but they accepted her application and she got small checks every now and then. Now she is 62, her husband would have been 66 and she is now receiving his full benefits + she is working full time - how can that be?

Hi,

It doesn't sound like you have the facts straight with regard to your co-worker. If she started drawing widow's benefits before her full retirement age (FRA), her widow's rate would be reduced for age. However, if her husband drew reduced retirement benefits before his death she may not have been able to receive more than a reduced rate anyway. Furthermore, her benefits would be subject to withholding based on the Social Security earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html) until she reaches FRA. Obviously, I can't accurately explain her situation without knowing all of the facts.

In your case, if you meet the requirements for widow's benefits and file at age 60, your claim would not be disallowed. However, it's possible that all of your benefits would have to be withheld due to the earnings test.

Your best filing strategy is likely one of the following:
1) File for reduced widow's benefits now or as soon as your earnings will permit benefits to be paid, then switch to your own record at age 70; or,
2) File for reduced retirement benefits on your own record at age 62 or as soon as your earnings will permit benefits to be paid, then file for widow's benefits at full retirement age, or sooner if your husband received reduced retirement benefits prior to his death.

Our maximization software can analyze your options and determine which of filing strategies mentioned above is best in your case, as well as when to apply for each type of benefit.

Best, Jerry