Social Security Matters

Ask Rusty – Widow Asks About Survivor Benefits

Dear Rusty:  My husband passed away 7 years ago at the age of 64, at which time he was receiving SS Disability. I was 58 at the time he passed and could not apply for his Social Security. I was still working but let SS know he was deceased, so his check was no longer deposited. I am now 65 and my age to reach full benefits without penalty is 66. I plan to work three more years before applying for Social Security. My question is: Can I apply for my deceased husband’s SS benefits now and not my own without any penalties?  And if so, what is the process? Thank you for your time and the information and resources you provide.  Signed: Widowed Wife

Dear Widowed:  Yes, as a widow you have the choice of claiming either your survivor’s benefit or your own benefit but claiming either before your full retirement age will reduce it. If you claim your survivor’s benefit before you reach age 66 it will be somewhat reduced from 100 percent of what your husband was receiving when he passed. Since you’re now 65, the reduction won’t be too severe (about 0.4 percent for each month before your full retirement age of 66). Your own benefit would be reduced by about 0.69 percent for each month before your full retirement age.  


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