Ask Larry

Will My Widow's Benefits Be Reduced Because My Husband Was On Disability?

Hi Larry,
I am a widow and will be 62 in November. My plan is to file for my reduced retirement benefits and then switch over to my widows benefits when I’m 66 yrs and 6 months. I have a phone interview coming up. They won’t make an in-person appointment for me. I’ve gotten several different answers from different people at the social security office and am very apprehensive about filing via telephone. One Person told me that a widow doesn’t get over 82 1/2% of her husband’s benefit, but I know better than that! My husband was on disability before he died, but was not collecting social security because he died at 60. Will my Widows benefits be reduced because he was on disability or does that not come in to play? I appreciate your opinion and expertise and if you have any suggestions/comments regarding me filing over the phone, please feel free to suggest away!! Thank you so much!

Hi. No. Widow's benefits are only limited to 82.5% of the deceased worker's primary insurance amount (PIA) when the worker collected reduced Social Security retirement benefits prior to their death. If you wait until your full retirement age (FRA) to claim widow's benefits, which is age 66 & 6 months for widow's born in 1959, then you'll be eligible for an unreduced widow's benefit.

Just to be clear, though, you can't be paid both your own benefit amount and a full widow's benefit at the same time. So, if you're drawing your own reduced benefits and later file for widow's benefits at FRA, your total combined benefit amount will then be equal to 100% of your husband's PIA.

It sounds like your plan is sound assuming that your unreduced widow's rate is higher than your own Social Security retirement benefit rate would be if you waited until age 70. However, you may want to consider using our software ( to make sure that your choosing the best possible filing strategy for maximizing your benefits.

I used to work for Social Security, and I took thousands of applications by phone during my career. Hopefully, you'll get a well trained claims representative to handle your claim, but don't hesitate to ask questions if you have concerns. If you're uncomfortable filing by phone, you may be able to apply for your retirement benefits online on Social Security's website:

Best, Jerry

Sep 22 2021 - 9:32am
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