What Happens If My Husband Dies?

Dec 7 2016 - 11:30am

I have been reading your book, but haven't yet found my situation. My husband and I are both retired. He is in his mid 70s and receiving Social Security. I have not filed at all. I will reach FRA in 2018 at which time I am thinking of filing a restricted application for spousal benefits. According to my current SS statement, my benefit at FRA will be slightly higher than my husband's was when he filed several months before his FRA. I am hoping to file on my record at age 70. My question is, what happens if my husband dies after I file for the spousal benefit, but before I turn 70? If I understand it correctly, the SS web site indicates that when a death is reported, the spouse's benefit is automatically converted to a survivor's benefit. So if I automatically begin receiving a survivor's benefit, will I still be able to file on my on record at age 70 for what should be a higher amount? Or what?? Thank you.


If you file a restricted application for spousal benefits only at full retirement age (FRA) and your husband dies before you reach age 70, your spousal benefits will automatically convert to widow's benefits. That means that you would then receive his full rate instead of 50%. And yes, if your own benefit rate is higher than the widow's benefit, you can switch to your own record at age 70.

Best, Jerry