Will My Widow's Benefits Be Reduced If I Start Drawing Them At Age 60?

Jan 1 2018 - 8:04am

Mr. Kotlikoff and Assistants:

Thank you for the opportunity to ask a question. I am 57.5 years old in a job over 32 years with an ok pension. I lost my husband of 35 years at age 60 in 2015. I am still reeling and confused on widows benefits. The SSA told me when I am 60 I can claim a 1407 benefit with earned income limitations.

I have been at my place of employment so long I would like to get out at age 60, in June of 2020, possibly take a part time job somewhere for something to do.. If I am not working at all when I take widows benefits at 60, are they reduced? And when should I file? I have read so much on line I am very confused.

If I take widows benefits at 60 will my own social security be affected at all? I think I should wait till my FRA and then claim mine?

I'm so confused on all of this and quite frankly feel lost. My husband was my safety net and now he is gone. We did everything together including making all the financial decisions, and now it falls on me. I just want to make sure I'm doing the right thing. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance.


I'm sorry for your loss.

Your full widow's rate will be reduced by 28.5% if you take it at age 60, however, that may still be advantageous if you can later switch to a higher benefit rate on your own record. Any reduction that you take on your widow's benefits would have no bearing on your own retirement benefit rate.

Your best strategy is almost certainly one of the following:
1) File for widow's benefits at age 60 or as soon as your earnings will permit benefits to be paid, then switch to your own record at age 70; or,
2) File for retirement benefits on your own record at age 62 or as soon as your earnings will permit benefits to be paid, then file for unreduced widow's benefits at your full retirement age.

Generally, you would want to start out drawing the lower benefit first and then switch to the higher record when it reaches it's highest potential rate. The maximization software available on this website can sort this all out for you and help you determine your best overall filing strategy.

Best, Jerry