Ask Larry

Will I Get The Amount That My Children Currently Receive When They Turn 18?

My husband passed away in Dec 2020. We have twin 11 yr olds,I myself am on SsDI
We are all recieving survivor benefits. My understanding is my benefits on the survivor side is reduced because family max. My children each recieve just over 2200.00 per month.
When they turn 18 in 7 yrs I will be 62 I am then intitled for the balance of my children's benefits?

Hi. I'm sorry for your loss. My answer assumes that your own Social Security disability (SSDI) rate is lower than your husband's primary insurance amount (PIA). You wouldn't automatically get your children's benefit amount when they stop receiving benefits. The benefit calculations are actually quite complex. Your eligibility for child in care survivor benefits will end when your twins reach age 16, assuming that neither of them are disabled. You can apply for regular widow's benefits at that time since you'll be age 60, but widow's benefits are reduced for age if you start drawing them prior to full retirement age (FRA).

Here's an example to illustrate: Let's say that Mary and her two children are eligible for survivor benefits. Mary's deceased husband Bob's PIA is $2800. Mary is also receiving SSDI benefits. Mary's SSDI rate, which is equal to her PIA, is $1000. Mary and her two children would each be eligible for up to 75% of Bob's PIA, or $2100 each, but due to the family maximum benefit (FMB) limit their rates are reduced to $1800 each. Mary can only be paid the higher of her own SSDI rate or her survivor rate, which in Mary's case is the $1800 survivor rate. But, rather than paying only the survivor benefits, Social Security would pay Mary her own SSDI of $1000, plus a partial survivor rate of $800. Thus, her combined benefit rate would be $1800. And, since only the $800 survivor rate would be counted toward the FMB, that allows Mary's children to be paid their full rates of $2100.

Let's go on to what would happen when Mary's youngest child turns age 16 and Mary no longer qualifies for child in care benefits. Since Mary will be age 60 at that time, she can file for regular widow's benefits. Widow's benefit rates can be as high as 100% of the deceased worker's PIA if the widow files at FRA, but if the widow files at age 60 their benefit rate is reduced for age to 71.5% of the worker's PIA. Without going into the detailed math involved, the result is that Mary's combined rate then goes down from $1800 to $1544. However, when Mary is 62 her children become too old to collect child benefits and Mary's survivor rate is no longer affected by the FMB. Mary's rate is then increased to $2002, or 71.5% of Bob's $2800 PIA. Furthermore, since Mary was entitled to SSDI benefits when she started drawing benefits as a widow, when Mary reaches her FRA the age reduction is removed from her widow's rate. That increases Mary's benefit rate to $2800, or 100% of Bob's PIA.

Assuming that neither of your children are disabled, Social Security should notify you that your child in care survivor benefits will end effective with the month your children reach age 16. Provided that you are still eligible for SSDI benefits at that time, it sounds like it would almost certainly be advantageous for you to apply for regular widow's benefits to start when your child in care benefits end. Although your widow's rate would then be reduced for age, at least temporarily, that reduction will be removed from your widow's rate once you reach your FRA.

Best, Jerry

Feb 23 2021 - 11:14am
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