Question: My spouse is two years younger than me. She will be 62 in two years (September, 2021). If she takes her Social Security benefit early, will this affect her survivor benefit should I precede her in death? That is, does the benefit reduction that results from her applying for her own benefit at age 62 follow to her survivor benefits, or does she get the full amount of survivor benefits she would have gotten had she not taken her benefit at 62? Note: Her early benefit dollar amount is less than half of my benefit, and waiting until her FRA (full retirement age) doesn't seem to be an answer for our retirement scenario.

Answer: "As long as your spouse starts her survivor benefit at her FRA or later, she will get the full amount even if she takes a reduced retirement benefit," says Elaine Floyd, CFP, director of Retirement and Life Planning at Horsesmouth.

Hopefully, she will be well over her full retirement age when she becomes entitled to her survivor benefit (i.e., when you die). "But if you were to die before she reaches her FRA," explains Floyd, "she could keep receiving her reduced retirement benefit and then switch to her full survivor benefit when she reaches that full retirement age."

Floyd notes that if the reader dies before their full retirement age, the wife's survivor benefit will be the amount of their PIA (primary insurance amount - the amount they would have received if they had claimed at their FRA), adding, "If you die after FRA but before claiming, her survivor benefit will include delayed credits earned up until the month of your death. If you die after claiming at 70, her survivor benefit will be the amount you were receiving at the time of your death."

"By the way," notes Floyd, if she is claiming early retirement benefits, and if her PIA is less than half of the writer's PIA, "make sure she applies for her spousal benefit immediately after you apply for your benefit. Sometimes spouses fail to go back for the spousal benefit after the worker-spouse applies." "But," cautions Floyd, "note that the spousal add-on will be the difference between her PIA and one-half of your PIA - not the difference between her reduced benefit and one-half of your PIA."

Got questions about the new tax law, Social Security, Medicare, retirement, investments, or money in general? Want to be considered for a Money Makeover? Email Robert.Powell@TheStreet.com. Kim McSheridan assisted with this report.

Question: My spouse is two years younger than me. She will be 62 in two years (September, 2021). If she takes her Social Security benefit early, will this affect her survivor benefit should I precede her in death? That is, does the benefit reduction that results from her applying for her own benefit at age 62 follow to her survivor benefits, or does she get the full amount of survivor benefits she would have gotten had she not taken her benefit at 62? Note: Her early benefit dollar amount is less than half of my benefit, and waiting until her FRA (full retirement age) doesn't seem to be an answer for our retirement scenario.

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