How Do I Get My Deceased Wife's Social Security?

Apr 11 2018 - 10:34am

I am almost 64 years old. My wife died at 72 years old ( 12/23/16) She was collecting SSC
I am looking at a layoff from the company I work for. So I believe now will be a good time to retire.
How do I get her SSC?
Is it best to get hers before I start mine.
I am fortunate to have good savings and will not have to count on my SSC check,
Early retirement health insurance? Please comment on that.

Hi Terry,

I'm sorry for your loss.

If your wife was receiving Social Security retirement benefits, your best strategy would likely be 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 on your own record 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. However, if your wife received reduced retirement benefits prior to his death that could affect the optimal time for you to claim widow's benefits.

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 can sort all of this out for you and help you determine your best filing strategy.

You can file for retirement benefits online at (, or by phone or in-person at a Social Security office ( To file for widower's benefits, you would either need to call or visit a Social Security office.

I can't offer you any advice with regard to health insurance, but you will be eligible for Medicare at age 65.

Best, Jerry