What Options Would I Have If My Husband Dies Before I Reach FRA?

May 5 2017 - 9:04pm

Hello, I'm 62 and considering applying for early benefits. My husband is 69 and waited until his FRA to apply, he gets about $2200 per month. My own full benefit amount is only $800. I realize my benefit including the spousal supplement would be reduced if I applied early. A SSA agent told me it would also reduce any future widow's benefit I might receive, even if I was over FRA when that occurred. I think that was incorrect. If I did apply for benefits early and he passed away in the next few years, would I be able to suspend widow's benefits until after my FRA in order to receive the full amount?


Your widow's benefits would not necessarily be reduced if you file for reduced retirement and/or spousal benefits prior to full retirement age (FRA). If you first become entitled to widow's benefits at FRA or later, your widow's rate will be unreduced. Technically, you would receive your reduced retirement benefit plus the difference between that amount and your husband's full rate. In other words, your combined benefit rate would be equal to your husband's full rate.

If you file for reduced retirement benefits prior to FRA, you will be forced to file for reduced spousal benefits as well. Then, if your husband dies before you reach FRA, you could opt to continue receiving just your reduced retirement benefits and wait until FRA to claim unreduced widow's benefits. You could not, however, continue to receive spousal benefits in that event.

Best, Jerry