Ask Larry

Will My Wife's Widow's Benefits Be Reduced If She Takes Her Own Benefits Early?

I turn 66 this September. At that time, I will be elibible for full retirement benefits. My wife is 4 years younger. She turns 62 in October. With my earnings record, I will receive close to the maximum benefit. My wife, on the other hand stayed at home to raise our children and did not work full time. She would qualify for marginal benefits ( I think they are around $100.00/ month at full retirement age), so she basically has no benefits of note. If she starts collecting spouse benefits at 62, and I were to die in 4 years after she has reached full retirement age would her survivor benefits be 100% of mine, r would they be reduced because she started collecting spouse benefits before reaching full retirement age?


If you die at or after your wife reaches full retirement age, she would receive your full benefit amount even if she starts drawing her own retirement benefits before FRA. She wouldn't receive both benefits, though, just essentially the higher of the two. Her widow's rate would include any delayed retirement credits that you earn by waiting past FRA to apply, so you might want to consider waiting until age 70 in order to maximize both your monthly rate as well as your wife's widow's rate in the event you die first.

You may want to strongly consider running the maximization software available on this website in order to determine the best filing strategy for you and your wife.

Best, Jerry

Apr 4 2017 - 6:30am
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