If My Wife Draws Reduced Benefits Will Her Survivor Benefits Also Be Reduced If I Die Before She Reaches FRA?

Category: 
Jan 19 2018 - 11:15am

I started collecting ss at 70 1/2. My wife is 9 years younger and just turned 62. If she starts collecting now based on my earnings since it is higher than if based on her earnings and I passed away before she reaches fra is she required to take the survivor benefit at that time or can she wait until her fra.
Thanks
Mel

Hi Mel,

When your wife is files for spousal benefits she'll be deemed to also be applying for retirement benefits on her own record. If she's eligible for both retirement and spousal benefits and you die before she reaches full retirement age (FRA), she would have the option of waiting until FRA to draw an unreduced widow's benefit. But, if she doesn't have enough work credits to be eligible for retirement benefits on her own record and she files for reduced spousal benefits prior to FRA and you die before she reaches FRA, her spousal benefits would automatically convert to reduced widow's benefits (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0300207005). The amount of reduction in that case would be based on her age at the time of your death.

Best, Jerry