What Is My Best Option?

Category: 
May 23 2017 - 10:35am

My husband died 1 day before his claim for disability became effective. Would it matter if I research the exact day he last worked and find out that it was earlier in the month than we had thought? He was 64. He only received regular retirement social security benefits for about three months before his death. His SS retirement benefits exceed mine. I will be 64 in the fall. I am working and my earnings exceed the ~$18,000 limit. I have a disability that is making it more difficult for me to do my job each day and I am wearing down. Can you please recommend the best option for me if I can manage to work until 65 and what I am entitled to if I need to leave my job? I would be very grateful for your advice as this a crucial decision for me. Thank you so much!

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

You could look into the possibility of an earlier entitlement date to disability benefits for your husband, but it's probably a long shot. I would need to know much more about the exact facts of his case in order to be able to advise you, however.

Since it sounds like your husband received reduced retirement benefits prior to his death, you may already be old enough to qualify for your maximum potential widow's rate. This is due to the RIB-LIM computation that will likely limit your widow's benefits to no more than the reduced rate your husband would be receiving if he was still alive (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0300615320).

So, I'm guessing that you may want to file for widow's benefits as soon as your earnings will permit you to receive at least some benefits. Even if you earn more than the exempt amount of $16,920 this year, you may still be due some benefits depending on how much you earn in excess of that amount (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking2.html). And, you could potentially switch to drawing retirement benefits on your own record at age 70 if your own rate is higher than your widow's rate at that time. Remember, though, that's just my best guess based on the limited information from your question.

The maximization software available on this website is programmed to handle RIB-LIM computations as well as the earnings test, so you may want to strongly consider using the software to determine your best filing strategy.

Best, Jerry