If My Wife Applies For Survivor Benefits Before Reaching FRA Will The Benefit Be Reduced For Age?

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Apr 19 2020 - 3:42pm

SURVIVOR BENEFIT REDUCTION. I am 71 and my wife is 58. I delayed drawing my SS until 70 to increase my benefit to the maximum. Should I die before my wife reaches FRA, and she applies for Survivor benefit, will the benefit be reduced depending on her age? Alternatively, should I survive until my wife reaches 62, files and receives a reduced benefit, does that also lock her in to a reduced survivor benefit when I die?

Hi,

If you die before your wife reaches full retirement age (FRA) and she files for widow's benefits before FRA, then yes her widow's rate would be reduced for age. If she started drawing widow's benefits at age 60 she'd receive 71.5% of your full rate, but if she's at least FRA when she starts drawing widow's benefits she'd get your full rate. If she starts drawing widow's benefits between age 60 and FRA, the closer she is to FRA when she starts drawing the closer to 100% of your rate she'd receive.

Filing for either her own benefits at age 62 or spousal benefits would not lock your wife into receiving a reduced survivor rate. She could still get 100% of your benefit rate if she's at least FRA when she claims widow's benefits. However, if your wife is drawing reduced spousal benefits and is not eligible for benefits on her own record, and if you die before she reaches FRA her spousal benefits would automatically convert to survivor benefits and her rate would be reduced based on her age at the time of your death.

Best, Jerry