Ask Larry

Is It True That A Widow's FRA Is Different Than A Regular FRA?

Hi Larry,

My father (58) passed recently and I am looking to maximize social security for my mother (65). She is currently collecting Social Security disability which is roughly 40% the amount my father's FRA amount would be. My plan was to wait until her listed FRA (66) to collect my father's FRA amount. However, I recently came across a couple websites saying that the Widow FRA is not the same as their regular FRA and that it is two years earlier. Can you confirm or deny this is true?

A couple more questions. Can she wait until 70 and collect my father's delayed SS (at age 70)? Can she collect her SS disability past her FRA in this case?

Thanks,
Travis

Hi Travis,

I'm sorry for your loss.

A person's full retirement age (FRA) for widow(er) benefits can be up to 4 months (not 2 years) earlier than their regular FRA, but that only applies to people born in the years 1938 through 1944 & 1955 through 1961. If your mother is currently age 65, her FRA is age 66 for both retirement and widow's benefits.

Your mother's disability benefits will automatically convert to regular retirement benefits at age 66, and her widow's benefits would not get any higher if she waits beyond age 66 to start drawing them. So, it sounds like your mother's best option would likely be to file for unreduced widow's benefits at age 66. Social Security will then pay your mother her full retirement benefit plus the difference between that amount and your father's full retirement age rate (PIA). In other words, her total benefit rate will be equal to your father's full PIA. You may want to consider using the maximization software available on this website just to be sure that you make the best choice, though.

Best, Jerry

Category: 
Posted: 
Aug 30 2017 - 8:18am
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