When Should I Collect Widow Benefits? I Have A Non-Covered Pension

Jul 7 2016 - 8:00am

I was married for 29 years, been widowed for 12. I am 62. Upon my husband's death ( he worked for ATT for 33 years) and would be 65 today. Anyway, I started teaching under TRS. I understand I will be penalized with the GPO or WEP, on survivors benefits. My own ss would be far, far less than husbands. Any advice for me? Also, if I start collecting at 66, can I still continue to teach without the penalty? Thank you very much, I have had so many various answers on what to do.


Truly sorry about your loss. You will get the definitive correct answer to maximizing your lifetime Social Security benefits by running our software. It's only $40 and can mean making or losing tens of thousands of dollars especially in your highly complex case. Here are the complexities.

First, you will get hit by the WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision) with respect to your own retirement benefit. But the WEP won't kick in until you take your non-covered pension. Second, the WEP penalty may be small or zero if you had 30 or more years of substantial covered earnings in the covered sector. Your widows benefit, when you take it will also be zapped by the GPO (Government Pension Offset).

Second, your husband may have taken his benefits early -- before he died. In this case, the special RIBLIM formula for widows benefits apply, which can entail your widows benefit peaking before full retirement age -- 66 in your case.

Third, the Earnings Test will apply until you reach full retirement age. Even so, you won't necessarily lose all your benefits to it if you take benefits early.

Fourth, you may have the option of holding off on taking the non-covered pension and being compensated for the delay by getting a larger starting value. This can matter to your optimal strategy. You can tell our program when your non-covered pension will start and, thereby, examine this issue in seconds.

Here's what I think our program will, in general, tell you, but it's far smarter than me and will give you precise dates about exactly what to do and when. I think it will tell you to take your own retirement benefit immediately if it's not wiped out entirely by the Earnings Test, to hold off taking your non-covered pension (but you should only do this if your pension is significantly higher if you wait to collect. Our esplanner.com software includes all aspects of your financial affairs, so after running Maximize My Social Security, please run ESPlannerPLUS). It will also likely tell you to switch to your widows benefit before or at your full retirement age depending on whether the RIBLIM formula applies.

Our software handles all the issues listed and runs in seconds. So you are just $40 away from the right answer and piece of mind.

My best, Larry