Ask Larry

Should I Be Receiving My Full SS Amount?

Larry my question is I had cancer and the chemo did permanent damage. I went on disability. Then my husband passed. My ck was more. Now I'm 66 my ss would be more. I'm so confused. Should I be receiving my full ss amount?

Hi. I'm sorry for your loss. I would need more information to be able to give you a definite answer. Here is what I can tell you. When you're eligible for both your own benefits and widow's or disabled widow's benefits (DWB), you can't be paid both benefits in full. You can basically only be paid up to the higher of the two benefit rates. If your own rate is lower than your survivor benefit rate, Social Security pays you your own benefit plus a partial survivor rate that brings your total benefit amount up to roughly the higher survivor amount.

Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits aren't reduced for age, so you get your full benefit amount regardless of what age you are when you start drawing SSDI benefits. Then, at your full retirement age (FRA), SSDI benefits convert to regular Social Security retirement benefits at the same rate. However, if you start collecting DWB or widow's benefits prior to FRA, the widow's/DWB rate is reduced for age, at least temporarily.

If you started out drawing Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits based on your own earnings history and later became eligible for additional DWB or regular widow's benefits prior to FRA, then any reduction for age applied to your DWB/widow's benefit rate would be removed effective with the month you reach your FRA. That could increase your total benefit amount unless your husband collected reduced Social Security retirement benefits prior to when he died.

If your husband did receive reduced Social Security retirement benefits prior to his death, then your total benefit amount would be limited to the higher of a) your own benefit rate, b) your husband's reduced benefit rate including cost of living (COLA) increases, or c) 82.5% of your husband's primary insurance amount (PIA). But, if your husband didn't receive reduced Social Security retirement benefits prior to his death, then it sounds like you would be due the higher or your own benefit rate or your husband's full benefit rate starting with the month you reach your FRA. The bottom line is that it sounds as though you may be due a benefit increase effective at FRA, but that would depend on the details involved.

Best, Jerry

Aug 29 2022 - 6:38am
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