Will My Wife's Widow's Benefits Be Reduced If She Takes Reduced Spousal Benefits?

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May 27 2017 - 7:44am

A little over a yr ago i started my ss benefit at age 70. My wife will not have any ss benefit based on her work record. We were planning on her taking a reduced spousal benefit at 62; with the understanding that she could still receive 100 % of my 70 yr old benefit , if i was still alive when she reached her full retirement age. The ss office has advised us that if she files for her spousal benefit before she reaches her full retirement age, not only will her spousal benefit be reduced , but her survivors benefit will also be reduced, even if she were past her full retirement age. this is contrary to what they told us when I started my benefit.Since we are getting different answers from the ss office, we are hoping you can help us out. Thanks . P.S. IF she does start her spousal benefit at 62, could she suspend or stop her survivors benefit should I die before she reaches her full retirement age? Thanks twice times.

Hi,

If you die first, your wife's widow's rate will be calculated based on her age at the time of your death. So, even if she takes a reduced spousal benefit at age 62, her widow's rate will be unreduced if you die after she reaches her full retirement age (FRA).

If your wife does take her reduced spousal benefits and you die before she reaches FRA, her benefits will automatically convert to a reduced widow's rate effective with the month of your death (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0300207005). To the best of my knowledge, she could not defer receipt of widow's benefits until FRA in that scenario unless she is insured for benefits on her own work record.

Best, Jerry