If I Defer SS Benefits Until Age 70, Will My Wife Receive My Age 70 Rate Or My Full Retirment Age Rate As A Widow?

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Feb 20 2019 - 11:04am

Larry: Here’s a scenario that I haven’t seen covered yet; My wife and I have both worked enough to qualify for Social Security benefits; My monthly benefit will be roughly double hers. She’s eight years younger than me and I expect her to live into her 90s. Unfortunately, I have health issues that will most likely prevent me from living past my early 70s. Given these probable conditions, here are my questions: If I defer SSA benefits until age 70, will my wife receive my elevated (roughly 128%) benefit, or will she only receive my 100% benefit in lieu of hers? I was born in late 1956, she was born in early 1965. It also seems to make sense to me for her to begin receiving her benefit at age 62, provided that I’m still around; Will doing so affect her receipt of my benefit when she reaches her full retirement age of 67 if, by then, I’m deceased?

Hi,

I'm sorry to hear about your health issues.

If you wait until age 70 to claim your Social Security retirement benefits and subsequently die before your wife, she would receive your full age 70 rate as a survivor provided that she's at least full retirement age (FRA) at the time she starts drawing her widow's benefits. It wouldn't matter whether or not your wife starts drawing her own retirement benefits at age 62 as long as she doesn't start drawing widow's benefits prior to FRA. Regardless of whether your wife is drawing reduced or unreduced Social Security retirement benefits on her own record at the time of your death, if she files for widow's benefits at FRA or later her widow's rate would be calculated by subtracting her benefit rate from your full rate. That means that her combined benefit amount would then add up to your full benefit rate, inclusive of any delayed retirement credits you earn by waiting past your FRA to claim your benefits.

You and your wife should consider using our software to make sure that you choose the best possible strategy for claiming your benefits.

Best, Jerry