Is My Sister In Law Eligible For Any Additional Benefits?

Feb 22 2017 - 6:15am

Hi Larry,
Thank you for your column & advice. I'm trying to help my recently widowed sister in law. Her husband passed away last Sept 2016 at 68. He signed up for social security at 62. She sign up at 63. She will be FRA (66) in March 2016. Is she eligible to be grandfathered? They never knew about the new rules about to happen in 2016. I am reading your revised book & have purchased the software. But what steps if any would you recommend to her to acquire more monthly income? Her current amount is $3.00 more than what her husband received per month.
Thanks for your help, Jen


The general rule is that the surviving member of a couple is eligible for the higher of their 2 benefits, not both. However, if your sister-in-law's husband took his benefits at age 62, it's possible that she could be eligible for somewhat more than what he was receiving.

None of the new regulations would affect your sister-in-law's filing options, and it sounds like there would be no advantage for her to wait to apply for widow's benefits if she's eligible. If she hasn't already done so, she should contact Social Security as soon as possible to see if she is eligible for widow's benefits. If nothing else, she will likely qualify for at least a one-time $255 death benefit.

And, if your sister-in-law had any other marriages, it's possible that she could qualify for benefits on a previous spouse's record.

Best, Jerry