Ask Larry

When I Die At What Age Can My Wife Start Collecting From My Record?

Hi Larry,

I am 56 years old and my wife of five years is 30. I am in excellent health and will likely live well into my 80's. My wife works and is making around $60k per year and obviously putting into the SS system. When I die at what age can my wife start to collect spousal benefits from Social Security? My salary is around 90K per year and has been for the last 10 years and should be for the next five until I retire.


Your wife could potentially be paid widow's benefits as early as age 60, or age 50 if she becomes disabled. However, if she starts drawing widow's benefits prior to her full retirement age (FRA) of 67, her benefit rate will be reduced for age.

You don't mention children, but if your wife has a child of yours in her care who's under age 16 or disabled, then she could potentially qualify for surviving mother's benefits at any age.

If your wife qualifies for widow's benefits and starts drawing them at FRA or later, she'd be paid the higher of her own rate or your benefit rate. So, if you wait past FRA to start drawing your benefits and accrue delayed retirement credits (DRC), that higher rate could be passed on to your widow. Conversely, if you start drawing your benefits early that would lower your wife's potential widow's rate. You and your wife may want to consider using our software ( to do your Social Security planning.

Best, Jerry

Jul 31 2019 - 10:50am
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