Will I Automatically Start Drawing My Own Higher Benefits When I Turn Age 70?

Dec 9 2018 - 10:03am

I filed for social security at age 66 but deferred receiving benefits and instead received spousal benefits for a couple of years. When my husband died last year, I was automatically switched to survivor's benefits.

I want to receive benefits on my own record when I turn 70 in a year, since these will be higher than the survivor's benefits. My question is whether this will happen automatically, or if I have to do something.


I'm sorry for your loss.

No, you won't automatically be switched to your own record when you reach age 70. You must apply separately for Social Security retirement benefits on your own record in order to become entitled to those benefits. Apparently, when you turned age 66 you filed just for spousal benefits only, and you must have specifically excluded retirement benefits on your own account from the scope of that application. If you had instead applied for and suspended your retirement benefits you wouldn't have been able to draw spousal benefits, which as you mention have now been converted to survivor benefits.

So, assuming that your own retirement benefit rate will be higher than your widow's rate you'll need to contact Social Security to file an application when you want to switch to your own account.

Best, Jerry