How Do I Maximize My Benefits?

Mar 30 2017 - 9:45am

Larry and your wonderful staff and yes, I am using all the flattery and truth to get the correct answers. I sincerely think it is noble of you and your staff to help us (we need it). My wonderful husband was 30 years my senior and drilled into me to not take Social Security Benefits (SSB) until the age of 70. But, we did not discuss survivors or widows benefits. He (my husband) did not received SSB until he 70 years of age. He died at age 90. The Social Security representative said I can get widows benefits now. I'm 60 years old and have worked full-time until until several years ago. My questions are how will this ( widow or survivors benefits) affect taking full benefits when I turn 70 years old. HELP!!! Are these separate programs? Will there a penalty, I work part-time now? Do I use my benefits records now for widow or survivors or do I use his (records ) and how will this effect me when I turn 70 years old, do I take what ( benefit) and switch to what later? How do I maximize the benefits we both contributed to.I read your article about your dear Mother (loving story too); and yes, I am expecting longevity.

Thank you, so very much for your attention to this matter.


Hi Tolliver,

I'm sorry for your loss.

Your best strategy is likely one of the following:
1) File for reduced widow's benefits now, then file for your own retirement benefits at age 70; or,
2) File for reduced retirement benefits at age 62, then file for unreduced widow's benefits at your full retirement age. Your full retirement age (FRA) for widow's benefits is 66 if you were born in 1956 or earlier, or 66 & 2 months if you were born in 1957.

You will almost certainly want to start out drawing the lower benefit first, and save the higher benefit for last. Your earnings could play a role in how much you could receive prior to FRA, but only if you earn more than $16,920 per year (

You may want to consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to determine which of the above filing strategies is best in your case.

Best, Jerry