Ask Larry

Shouldn't I Be Eligible For My Husband's Full Age 70 Rate?

I recently applied for my husband's social security. He died in Jan, 2017. At that time I spoke with a SS rep locally in Lowell, who told me I had to wait until I was 66 to collect his full benefit. She even sent me a chart. This also included delayed benefits. My husband retired at 70 to get full benefits.

When I spoke to another rep to begin receiving benefits - am 66 in Sept - he told me the delayed money is only for the worker, does not get passed on to spouse. I would get what my husband would have made at 65, not the deferred. Made no difference that I got a chart from this other person (fellow I spoke to says they do not keep notes so he did not know who I spoke to.)

He states clearly this is the rule, but I do have your book and again looked up benefits of a widow/er if a person retires after his FRA spouse gets delayed benefits.

Can you shed any light on this?

Thanks so much!

Hi Pam,

I'm sorry for your loss.

Quite simply, the first person with whom you spoke at Social Security was correct and the second person was wrong. If your husband started drawing his benefits at age 70 and you're at least full retirement age (FRA) when you start drawing widow's benefits, then you're entitled to receive his full age 70 rate as a widow, inclusive of the delayed retirement credits (DRC) that he earned by waiting until age 70 to start drawing his benefits. That fact is clearly stated in the following section of Social Security's handbook: Just to be clear, you can't get both your own benefit rate plus your full widow's rate at the same time, though, just the higher of the two.

If you've already filed your claim with the uninformed Social Security employee then you may want to recontact him and direct him to either the handbook section listed above, or section RS 00615.702 ( of Social Security's operations manual. If you haven't yet filed for your benefits then I would suggest filing your claim with a different, better trained, Social Security claims representative. If for any reason your claim does get processed and you don't receive the proper benefit rate, you can file a formal request for appeal (

Best, Jerry

Aug 3 2019 - 8:38am
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