At age 66 my husband was diagnosed with a terminal Illness and was eligible for disability. Disability insurance required we file for SS benefits. Our plan was to suspend SS benefit when disability insurance expired and live with savings until he reached age 70. Is there any value in me waiting until his 70th birthday to apply for the restricted widows benefit. I am approaching 61 and plan on rejoining the work force, have been home being the caregiver over last several years. My husband was definitely the higher salary. My concern is the fact we were forced to apply for his benefit and is there any way I can use to my advantage to collect his age 70 benefit?
I so appreciate the opportunity to address my questions.. I have read Larrys book and followed his columns in recent years. Thank you.. Yvonne
I'm sorry to hear about your husband's illness.
Assuming that you qualify for widow's benefits, you would never want to wait past your full retirement age (FRA) to claim them. Unlike retirement benefits, widow's benefit rates do not increase if you wait past FRA to start drawing them. Obviously, though, you couldn't qualify for widow's benefits anytime prior to the month of your husband's death.
As long as your husband didn't receive reduced retirement benefits prior to his entitlement to disability benefits and if he suspends his benefits at FRA and lives to be at least age 70, then your unreduced widow's benefit rate would be equal to his age 70 rate. If your husband suspends his benefits at FRA and dies before age 70, your unreduced widow's rate would be equal to the rate that he would have been eligible for in his month of death. You would not have to wait past your FRA to be eligible for that rate, but if you start drawing widow's benefits prior to FRA your benefit rate will be reduced for age.
If you're certain that your widow's rate would be higher than your own retirement benefit rate even if you waited until age 70 to start drawing retirement benefits, then you may want to consider filing for reduced retirement benefits on your own record at age 62. But, until you reach FRA your benefits could be subject to Social Security's earnings test if you're working and earning too much (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html). You could then file for widow's benefits at your FRA and receive your unreduced widow's rate if your husband passes away by that time. Note that you wouldn't be able to receive both benefits in full, though, just the higher of the two rates.
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