Should I Collect My Retirement Benefit Now If My Husband Is Dying and I Will Be Able to Collect a Widows Benefit Later?

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Sep 4 2016 - 12:45am

Hello....

I will be 62 this Sept. my husband is 63 ...he will be getting disability benefits starting in Sept.... he is not well....
I will be getting $900.00 A month at age 62 ....he will be getting $2,340 his full ret benefit .
Our question is if anything happens to him and I am a widow can I keep my $900 month till I reach my full ret. age at 66 and then claim his full ret benefit... of $2,340. I would not claim for widows benefit...I would keep mine and then file for his when I turned 66 . We called SS twice and got two different answers one said yes I could do this the other said no ..if I didn't claim my widows benefit and waited till I was 66 to claim my husbands.... I would still be penalized for not waiting till I was 66 and I would lose those benefits for those years that I did not apply for them under the widows benefit. I would like to get his full benefit when I turn 66 and not claim a widows benefit. We are hoping this my never happen .....
I am no longer working ......how much would they take away from his benefit if I took mine at 62..? Should I wait till I am 66 to file for mine so I would get his full amount if anything happens to him ...?
Thanks for your time.. Jackie

Dear Jackie,

Terribly sorry to hear about your husband's situation. If there is a very high chance that your husband will die before or soon after you reach full retirement age, your best bet seems to be to a) take your reduced retirement benefit immediately, b) if he dies before you reach full retirement age, take your widows benefit at full retirement, and c) if he dies after you reach full retirement age, take your widows benefit as soon as he passes.

Social Security will call what you get the sum of your reduced retirement benefit plus your excess widows benefit (which will be reduced if you take it before full retirement age). This will be your full widows benefit (his disability benefit check) less your reduced retirement benefit. So if you add up everything you will get as a widow, if you wait till full retirement age, it will equal just your husbands disability benefit. I.e., you won't get your reduced retirement benefit plus your full widows benefit. You will get your reduced retirement benefit plus your excess widows benefit (reduced if you take it before full retirement age).

Now what to make of what Social Security staff told you over the phone? My answer is that the first staffer may have understood the rules and the second may have been telling you what I just told you but in such an unclear manner that it wasn't clear what he was saying.

But my real hunch is that neither of the Social Security staff gave you full clear and correct information. In my estimate, about half of Social Security's answers to the public are completely wrong, half wrong, incomplete, or highly misleading. This is why I repeated tell people never to ask Social Security anything. Just tell them what to do.

To know what to do, you should read my book with Paul Solmon and Phil Moeller (Get What's Yours -- The Revised Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security Benefits). You should also run my company's $40 www.maximizemysocialsecurity.com program. This is particularly the case in your case as you need to explore different maximum ages of life for your husband. If he could live to 100, then the strategy we are discussing is not going to be optimal. The software can show you how his maximum age of life can change the optimal strategy.

My best and, obviously, best of luck with his health situation,

Larry