Is There Any Way To Receive Benefits And Let My Widow's Benefits Grow?

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Jun 13 2017 - 7:16am

I am 59 years old and just lost my husband in March of this year. He was 55. He was also the major breadwinner. I worked throughout our marriage but mostly part-time. As I understand it. I am not able to receive widow's benefits until I turn 60. Is there a way to receive benefits while letting his social security grow. I plan on continuing work also. Thank you.

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

In order to receive the highest possible widow's rate, you would file for those benefits at your full retirement age (FRA) for widow's benefits, which is likely either 66 & 2 months or 66 & 4 months in your case. You could potentially receive reduced retirement benefits on your own record before then, but you'd need to be at least age 62 to be eligible. There is also an earnings test (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html) that could limit payment of benefits prior to full retirement age.

Your best filing strategy is likely one of the following:
1) File for reduced widow's benefits at age 60 or as soon as your earnings will permit benefits to be paid, then switch to your own record at age 70; or,
2) File for reduced retirement benefits at age 62 or as soon as your earnings will permit benefits to be paid, then file for unreduced widow's benefits at full retirement age.

You would probably want to file for the lower benefit rate first, and save the higher benefit rate for last. So, your best strategy depends on which benefit rate would be higher between your unreduced widow's rate or your age 70 retirement rate.

The maximization software available on this website can help you determine which of the above filing strategies is best in your case, as well as when to apply for each type of benefit.

Best, Jerry