Will I See An Increase In My Survivor Benefit Rate If Some Of My Benefits Were Withheld Due To The Earnings Test?

Apr 11 2019 - 4:50pm

I receive survivor benefits, and had 18 months withheld due to the earnings test. I'm 66 now (FRA). Will I see an increase in my benefit to recover what was withheld? I know this is the case for an individuals regular benefit but have not seen an answer regarding survivor benefit. I turned 66 5 months ago.


If you're receiving survivor benefits that are reduced for age if you start drawing them early, such as widow's or surviving divorced spousal benefits, then yes your benefit rate will be recomputed to remove the percentage reduction in your benefit rate that was applied for any months for which you ended up not being paid benefits due to the earnings test. That type of benefit rate adjustment is due effective with the month you reach your full retirement age (FRA), but it can take Social Security up to 18 months after FRA to actually perform the recomputation. They will, however, go back and pay you any back pay that you are due.

I should explain, though, that in some cases widow's and surviving divorced spousal benefits are capped at 82.5% of the deceased worker's primary insurance amount (PIA). That's referred to as a RIB-LIM case, and it only applies if the worker drew reduced Social Security retirement benefits prior to their death. If that's involved in your case, it's possible that the recomputation described above may not make any difference in your benefit rate.

Best, Jerry