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If I Wait To Collect My Deceased Husband's Benefits Will COLA Increases Be Added To His Benefit Amount?

Hi Larry,
My husband was receiving his social security at his FRA when he passed away last August 2022. I was told that if I applied for survivor benefits at my age of 62, I would only receive 80% of his benefit. My question is if I wait to collect his benefit, would his social security benefit be affected by the cost of living allowances & increase or because he is deceased will the amount will stay the same? Thank you,

Hi. I'm sorry for your loss. Widow's benefit rates are increased by all Social Security cost of living (COLA) increases that occur after the deceased worker's death, regardless of whether or not the widow has started collecting benefits. So, if you delay collecting widow's benefits, your eventual widow's rate will still include all of the COLA increases that occur(ed) after your husband's death.

Since you don't mention your current age and whether or not you're working, I can't give you any specific advice about claiming benefits. If you have enough Social Security work credits to be eligible for your own benefits and if you haven't yet started drawing any benefits, though, your best filing strategy would likely be one of the following:

1) File for reduced widow's benefits as early as age 60 or as soon as your earnings will permit at least some benefits to be paid, then switch to your own record at age 70; or,
2) File for reduced retirement benefits on your own record as early as age 62 or as soon as your earnings will permit at least some benefits to be paid, then file for unreduced widow's benefits at full retirement age (FRA). However, if your husband collected reduced Social Security retirement benefits prior to his FRA, you'd want to apply for widow's benefits at some point before you reach FRA.

Normally, you would want to start out drawing the lower benefit first and then switch to the higher benefit when it reaches its highest potential rate. Our software ( could help sort all of this out for you so that you can determine the best strategy for maximizing your benefits.

Best, Jerry

Mar 3 2023 - 11:58am
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