Ask Larry

How Far Back Can I Claim Widow's Benefits?

My husband suddenly passed away on March 25, 2015. He was 67 years old. He was receiving his social security.
I and my children, totally forgot about me applying to get my widow benifits from his social security.
I am retired and receive a pension from my US Goverment employment.
Would you please guide me as to what I should do?
Will I be able to get his pension from the date he died?
Or, what do I do?
Thank you
I am now 67, and on Dec. 2, will be 68.


First off, my sincere sympathies for your loss.

Since you reached full retirement age almost 2 years ago, you can claim widow's benefits for up to 6 months prior to the month you file an application. Unfortunately, though, your government pension may prevent you from receiving monthly widow's benefits from Social Security.

If your work for the government was exempt from Social Security taxes, your Social Security widow's benefit will likely be reduced by 2/3rds of the amount of your government pension. This is due to the Government Pension Offset provision (, and it could result in your widow's benefit being reduced to zero.

No matter what, you should contact Social Security as soon as possible. You can make an appointment by calling 1-800-772-1213, or you can walk into an office to file. You should at least be entitled to a one-time payment of $255 from your husband's record, and you may or may not be eligible for monthly benefits as well.

Best, Jerry

Sep 19 2016 - 10:45am
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