Ask Larry

How Does It Work If You Qualify For Widow's Benefits On More Than One Record?

I lost my first husband of almost 25 years in 2008 from a heart attack, we discovered he had a heart condition, he was only 48 years old. I received a $255 death benefit, and our son received survivors benefits for about 1 year until he graduated high school, that amounted to about $925 a month.

I remarried in 2010, and my husband was diagnosed in 2014 with terminal brain cancer. He has been on Social Security Disability since March of 2015. His current benefit amount is about $1700 a month. He had been clean of the cancer up until July 2017, we were given the sad news that the cancer is back, and this time inoperable. They have given him 6 months to live this time. I'm hoping for much more time, since he'd already beaten the odds once.

When searching online about being widowed twice, I stumbled upon a link that suggested I may be able to take windows benefits from Social Security at the age of 60, even though my full retirement age isn't until 67 1/2.

Can you clarify how that might work? Would that mean I would be able to pull both my late husbands Social Security benefits? Otherwise, where would they go, into the general fund? I mean my first husband paid into it his whole life before dying.

Thank you.


I'm sorry to hear about your husband diagnosis.

If you are widowed more than once, you can only receive widow's benefits on one husband's record at a time. You don't mention your current age, but it sounds like you may be able to file for reduced widow's benefits on one deceased spouse's record as early as age 60 (or possibly earlier if you are disabled) and then switch to unreduced benefits on the other spouse's record at your full retirement age. And, if you insured for retirement benefits on your own record, that would add even more possible options to the mix.

You may want to strongly consider using the maximization software available on this website to explore all of your options and determine your best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry

Sep 14 2017 - 8:48am
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