Dear Rusty: My wife passed from COVID-related heart disease in 2020, just short of her 65th birthday. I will be 66 in May 2023. Do I have any recourse for a part of her benefit? Online at ssa.gov it says I can retire 4 months early due to her passing. Is that true? I’m confused on these issues. Signed: Confused Widower
This recording presents the viewpoints of the AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory Staff, trained and accredited under the National Social Security Advisors program of the National Social Security Association, LLC (NSSA). NSSA and the AMAC Foundation are not affiliated with or endorsed by the United States Government, the Social Security Administration, or any other state government. To request additional information, contact our Advisory Staff at 888-750-2622, or email us at [email protected].
4 comments about “Ask Rusty – Can a Widower Get Full Survivor Benefits Early?”
How to go about recieving widow benefits
You will need to make an appointment with your local Social Security office to apply for widow benefits. If you were receiving a spousal benefit on your deceased spouse’s benefit at their time of death, and you have already reached your full retirement age (FRA) and their benefit was higher than yours, you will be switched automatically to their higher benefit and your own smaller benefit will end. If you are receiving a spousal benefit and are not eligible for a benefit on your own Social Security record, you will automatically be switched to your widow benefit regardless of your age. In this case, the widow benefit amount will be reduced according to your age. If you are receiving a spousal benefit, but have not reached your FRA, you will have to apply for your widow benefit using form SSA-25 https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-25.pdf and it will be a permanent reduction.
Certificate of Election For Reduced Spouse’s Benefits – Social Security Administration
Form SSA-25 (07-2015) UF (07-2015) Destroy Prior Editions. Social Security Administration. CERTIFICATE OF ELECTION FOR REDUCED SPOUSE’S BENEFITS. Form Approved. TOE 210 OMB No. 0960-0398
If you are not yet receiving any benefits, and have reached age 60 you may apply for your widow benefits. If you do start your benefits at age 60 you will receive a benefit equal to 71.5% of your deceased spouse’s benefit, and it will be a permanent reduction. You will also be subject to an earnings limit if you are under your FRA which is currently $19,560 for 2022 and will be increased to $21,240 for 2023. If you earn over this limit your widow benefit will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you go over. In the year you reach your FRA the earnings limit increases by almost 2/3, $51,960 in 2022, and $56,520 in 2023.
If you are at least 62 and have not yet started receiving your own Social Security benefits, you have the option to restrict your application to the benefit of your choice. This means you can apply for the lowest benefit first while allowing the higher benefit to continue to grow. If your widow’s benefit will higher be higher than your own, you may want to consider taking your own smaller benefit first at a reduced amount and delay taking your widow’s benefit until you reach your FRA and will receive 100% of their benefit. If your own benefit will eventually be higher than your widow’s benefit, you may then want to start your widow’s benefit at a reduced amount while allowing your own benefit to continue to grow until it is larger, up to age 70 if you choose to receive your maximum Social Security benefit amount.
If you have further questions please contact us either by email at [email protected] or call (888)750-2622
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How much can a person earn will receiving Survivor Benefits?
Until you reach your full retirement age (FRA) you will be subject to an earnings limit. For 2023, the earnings limit is $21,240, or $1,770 per month. If you go over this limit Social Security will withhold $1 for every $2 you go over. In the year you reach your FRA, the earnings limit for 2023, is $56,520 or $4,710 per month. If you go over this limit Social Security will withhold $1 for every $3 you go over. These limits tend to increase each year.
If you have further questions please contact us at [email protected] or 888-750-2622.
Sharon Kleczka RSSA