Is What The Social Security Representative Told Me Correct?

Category: 
Feb 16 2018 - 7:34am

I am a widow, age almost 62. My retirement benefits will be smaller than my late husband’s. I thought that if I take my retirement benefits before my full retirement age (a reduced amount), and then apply for survivors benefits when I reach 66, that I would then receive my late husband’s full retirement amount.
But an SS representative told me that there is a new rule. Now, if I start taking my retirement benefits early and then apply for survivors benefits when I turn 66, I will NOT receive my late husband’s full amount. Instead, it will be calculated like this:
[(My late husband’s full retirement benefit amount) MINUS (my full retirement benefit amount)]
PLUS [the same reduced amount of my retirement benefits that I had already been receiving].
Can you please confirm if I am understanding this correctly? I can’t find anything on the SS website or anywhere else on the internet about this “new rule”, which the SS representative described as "a penalty or reduction".
Many thanks.

Hi,

There is no such 'new rule'. Filing for reduced benefits on your own record prior to your full retirement age (FRA) would not cause your subsequent widow's rate to also be reduced. As long as your husband did not receive reduced retirement benefits prior to his death, you will receive his full retirement age rate (PIA) if you wait until your FRA to start drawing widow's benefits even if you previously receive reduced retirement benefits on your own record. What you would actually be paid in that event is your reduced retirement benefit plus the difference between your reduced rate and your husband's full rate. In other words, your combined rate would be equal to your husband's full rate.

You may want to consider using our maximization software in order to determine your optimal strategy for claiming benefits.

Best, Jerry