Ask Larry

Should I Apply For Widow's Benefits At Age 60?

Hello Larry,
I have a complicated issue. In 2003 my husband died and myself and 2 children have been receiving SS Survivor benefits since. Mine will end this month due to my youngest turning 16 in Jan. But my oldest is disabled(he will turn 18 on 4/11/18) I am almost 59!! I have also homeschooled for the past 7 yrs and my oldest will not graduate until 2019(I put in for his continuation due to that issue as well) I went in to the SS office to deem my son disabled so I could continue receiving my portion, so mine is on hold while they determine if he is disabled. I dont know what to do. Should I wait for that determination? Should I apply for widowed at 60? I also have a deceased ex and we were married for 18 yrs. Could I file under his at 60, can I receive from both men> I am so lost!! Thank you in advance for any help!! We will be losing $1,200 a month while this issue is being worked out. If he is deemed disabled, will they owe me back funds as well? I was hoping my portion that I will be losing would go to them, but apparently not until this issue has been resolved!!


If your youngest child turns 16 in January, your child in care spousal benefits wouldn't stop until your payment that's due to arrive in February (i.e. the payment for January). Hopefully by then, the determination will have been made as to whether or not your older child's disability qualifies you for continuing child in care benefits. But, if your benefits are suspended and you are later determined to qualify, Social Security would pay you any back benefits that you are due.

You probably wouldn't want to file for reduced widow's benefits at age 60 if you still qualify for the child in care benefits and if both of your children are still drawing benefits at that time. In that case, filing for widow's benefits at age 60 would likely just stick you with a permanently reduced rate and lower total family benefits due to the method used to distribute the family maximum when a reduced benefit rate is involved.

It sounds like at age 60 you could potentially qualify for reduced widow's benefits or reduced surviving divorced spousal benefits. You could potentially file for reduced benefits on one spouse's record at age 60 and then switch to unreduced benefits on the higher of the two records when you reach full retirement age. Your best strategy likely depends on the status of your child in care eligibility and the relative benefit rates that you could potentially qualify for on your first and second husbands' records. And, if you have enough earnings credits to potentially receive retirement benefits on your own record that could give you additional options. You should strongly consider using the maximization software available on this website in order to compare your options and determine your best overall filing strategy.

Best, Jerry

Dec 4 2017 - 6:47am
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