Would I Have To Quit My Job In Order To Get My Deceased Husband's SS?

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Feb 6 2020 - 8:16am

I am 61 and work full time. My husband passed four years ago and until now I filed for his SS at his age of 65. In order to collect his SS, would I have to quite my job in order to get his SS amount or work part-time to qualified for his SS? It was explained to me that by me working I would have to pay $1 for every $2 dollars I make. That doesn’t sound right to me as the living spouse.

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

You wouldn't necessarily have to stop working altogether, but whether or not you could be paid any benefits prior to full retirement age (FRA) depends on your benefit rate and the amount that you're earning. Until you reach full retirement age (FRA) the Social Security earnings test can cause either full or partial withholding of your benefits if you earn too much. In 2020, for example, people who are under FRA for the entire year can earn up to $18,240 without losing any of their benefits. But, $1 of benefits would need be withheld for each $2 that their earnings exceed that amount. Furthermore, if you claim widow's benefits prior to FRA your benefit rate will be reduced for age.

It sounds like your best strategy for claiming benefits would likely be one of the following:
1) File for reduced widow's benefits now or as soon as your earnings will permit at least some benefits to be paid, then switch to your own record at age 70; or,
2) File for reduced retirement benefits on your own record at age 62 or as soon as your earnings will permit at least some benefits to be paid, then file for unreduced widow's benefits at full retirement age (FRA). However, if your husband drew reduced Social Security retirement benefits prior to his death then you would likely want to file for widow's benefits at some point prior to FRA.

Normally, 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. Our software (https://maximizemysocialsecurity.com/purchase) could sort all of this out for you and help you determine your optimal filing strategy.

Best, Jerry