What Will Happen When I Reach FRA?

Category: 
Feb 10 2020 - 10:32am

Hi Larry, Jerry et all,
I have been receiving SSDI since 2001. My FRA will be July, 2020 (BD, July, 1954) My husband passed away Oct.2018 at age 78 while collecting his FRB. I went to SS and they signed me up for widow's benefits.Since that time I've been receiving my SSDI benefit, Plus approx half of my husband's benefit. I get 2 checks per month. My question is what will happen when I reach my FRA in July? Will my widow's benefit be reduced? SS has told me that my benefit will simply be changed to regular SS without notifying them, and that my benefit amount will remain the same per month. I rely on my 50% widow's benefit and I need to start making plans in case they reduce any of my benefits or his.
Many Thanks!

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

What I can tell you for sure is that your benefit rate won't go down when you reach full retirement age (FRA). Your Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits will convert to regular Social Security retirement benefits at the same rate effective with the month you reach FRA. Your widow's benefits will also continue to be paid, and if anything the benefit rate may increase somewhat.

If you become eligible for a higher widow's rate when you're already drawing SSDI benefits, Social Security continues to pay your SSDI benefits plus a partial widow's benefit. The partial widow's rate is basically equal to the difference in the SSDI rate and the higher widow's rate, however, if you start drawing the widow's benefit prior to FRA the partial widow's rate is reduced for age. But, the age reduction is removed effective with the month that you reach FRA, which should increase your widow's rate at least somewhat unless your husband started drawing his Social Security retirement benefits prior to FRA. Bottom line, your total rate will either stay the same when you reach FRA, or it will go up a bit.

For anyone else reading this, I want to stress that the reduction for age applied to widow's benefits when a widow starts drawing prior to FRA is only removed if the widow is entitled to SSDI benefits at the time the widow's benefit start. Otherwise, any applicable reduction for age is permanent.

Best, Jerry