Should I File for My Widow's Benefit Early If I'm Still Working?

Jun 29 2016 - 5:00pm

Hi, I turned 60 on 2/3/2016. My husband died 11/3/1991, we had been married since 11/26/1977 when he died. He had been collecting SS Disability (for our whole family, myself & our 3 boys) since about mid 1986. (He became ill in 5/1984). I collected survivors benefits for my sons & myself until each turned 18; mine stopped when my youngest turned 16, he was born 11/1/1984, after my husband became ill. Now that I am eligible for my widow's benefits I was told by the SS office that I make too much income to really get any (about $30,150 annually vs. the $15,720 limit) & that I would be better off to wait until I turn 66. That if I file now & don't take them, I would still only get the reduced amount (the amount I would have gotten if I had actually started to receive them at this time) when I turn 66. I plan to work until 70, but I doubt my SS earnings will ever exceed my widow's benefit. I have not been earning greater than $25,000 annually for very long, only about 6 years. Was I given good, accurate information by the SS office? What would you recommend for my situation? Thanks, Toni

Hi Toni, if you file for your widow's benefit now, it would be reduced due to filing early and you'll be subject to the Earnings Test until your full retirement age (FRA), which is 66 and 4 months for you. If you never actually receive your widow's benefit before your FRA due to the Earnings Test, the early filing reductions will be removed, but there seems to be little reason to file for your widow's benefit early if you'll continue working and so won't receive it. After FRA the Earnings Test is no longer applied. It's not possible to determine the strategy that will maximize your benefits without more information. Our software will be able to calculate your maximized strategy. Thanks, John