Once My Father Passes Away Will My Mother Continue Receiving His Benefits?

Sep 10 2019 - 7:56am

hi. I'm writing this on behalf of my mother. My mother who is 60 years old lives with my 65 year old disabled father. My disabled father has been collecting SSDI for over 10 years and he is now at the last stages of his life. My question is, once my father passes away, will my mother qualify for continuing receiving his disability benefits for as long as she is still working? and what will happen to this benefits if she does retire when she reaches the age of 67?


I'm sorry to hear about your father's health problems.

Your father's benefits would stop effective with the month of his death, but your mother could then qualify for reduced widow's benefits on his record as early as age 60. However, until she reaches full retirement age (FRA) there's an earnings test that could cause part or all of her benefits to be withheld if she earns more than the annual earnings test exempt amount, which in 2019 is $17,640 (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html). Your mother could qualify for as much as your father's full benefit rate if she starts drawing as a widow at FRA or later, but her monthly rate would be reduced by as much as 28.5% if she starts drawing at age 60.

It sounds like your mother's best strategy for claiming benefits might be one of the following:
1) File for reduced widow's benefits as soon as she qualifies or as soon as her earnings would permit at least some benefits to be paid, then switch to her own record at age 70; or,
2) File for reduced retirement benefits on her own record at age 62 or as soon as her earnings would permit at least some benefits to be paid, then file for unreduced widow's benefits at full retirement age (FRA) or later depending on how long your father continues to live.

Normally, your mother would want to start out drawing the lower benefit first and then switch to the higher record when it reaches it's highest potential rate. Our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) could sort all of this out for your mother and help her determine her optimal filing strategy.

Best, Jerry