If I Die Before My Wife Reaches FRA Would She Get 100% Of My PIA?

Jun 10 2019 - 9:34am

I am 62 and still working although my life expectancy is likely lower than average due to a liver transplant in 2002. My wife is age 60 and draws about $750 a month in SS disability. I am considering applying for disability as I was on it for 4 years after transplant and have enough health issues I feel it is a good bet I can get re-approved. If I pass away either prior to filing for SS or after disability does my wife get Widows benefits of 100% of my PIA even if I die prior to her being 66 10 months (her FRA)?


If you die before your wife reaches her full retirement age (FRA), she would have to wait until she reaches FRA to claim widow's benefits if she wants to receive your full primary insurance amount (PIA). A person's PIA is the amount that they would be paid if they qualify for SSDI instead of reduced Social Security retirement benefits, or if they start drawing their Social Security retirement benefits at FRA. If your wife started drawing her widow's benefits before FRA they'd be reduced for age. The reduction rate is 28.5% at age 60, but that reduction percentage is prorated if you start drawing widow's benefits between age 60 and FRA. And, of course, your wife could only be paid the higher of her widow's rate or her own benefit rate, not both.

Your filing for Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits would have no adverse effect on your wife's potential widow's rate, but if you draw reduced Social Security retirement benefits before you reach FRA your wife's widow's rate would be limited by the RIB-LIM provision. In that case your wife wouldn't be able to receive your full PIA even if she waited until FRA or later to claim widow's benefits. RIB-LIM limits widow's benefits to no more than the higher of a) the worker's reduced benefit rate, or b) 82.5% of the worker's PIA.

It sounds like you should strongly consider using our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) to fully explore and compare all of your filing options in order to determine your optimal strategy for claiming your benefits.

Best, Jerry