My husband is a Federal Firefighter and qualifies for special category retirement. We are currently preparing for him to retire in the next 18 months. We have some concerns because he will be retiring early and need to make sure in the event he does pass away I would qualify for widow benefits at 60 even though I would be getting a 25% benefit from his FERS annuity. Will the annuity or the fact he retires special category have any effect on me receiving widow benefits at age 60 if they are needed.
No, since your husband paid Social Security taxes on his wages while working under FERS, his annuity will have no effect on his Social Security benefits regardless of when he starts drawing it nor what category he retires under. Nor would any of that affect your Social Security widow's or retirement benefits even if you receive a FERS survivor annuity.
What could affect your Social Security widow's rate is when your husband chooses to start taking his Social Security retirement benefits. If he files when he's first eligible at age 62, the highest possible widow's rate that you could receive would be 82.5% of his full retirement age rate (PIA). And, if you become entitled to widow's benefits at age 60, your widow's rate would only be 71.5% of his PIA.
Conversely, if your husband waits until age 70 to start drawing his Social Security benefits and you become entitled to widow's benefits at full retirement age or later, your widow's rate could be as much as 132% of your husband's PIA depending on his year of birth. You and your husband may want to consider using the maximization software available on this website in order to explore all of your Social Security filing options to determine your best overall filing strategy.