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Ask Bob: Does Taking My Social Security Early Decrease My Spousal Survivor Benefit?

Social Security uses the deceased worker’s basic benefit amount to calculate the percentage survivors can get. The percentage depends on the survivor’s age and relationship to the worker. If the worker who died was getting reduced benefits, Social Security will base the survivor’s benefit on that amount.

Question

I was born in 1954 and I am planning to take my Social Security benefit when I turn 70. I have recently retired. My wife was born in 1957 and she wishes to take her own Social Security benefit now. She has retired, also. Her own Social Security benefit is slightly larger than 50% of my Social Security benefit. Does her drawing of her own Social Security benefit early reduce her survivor benefit in any way?

Answer

The timing of her claim for her own retirement benefit has no impact on the amount she would receive as a survivor, says Joe Elsasser, CFP®, founder and president of Covisum. “Assuming she claims her widow benefit at or after her full retirement age, she would receive the full amount of the deceased’s benefit including delayed retirement credits,” he said.

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Question

I was born in 1954 and I am planning to take my Social Security benefit when I turn 70. I have recently retired. My wife was born in 1957 and she wishes to take her own Social Security benefit now. She has retired, also. Her own Social Security benefit is slightly larger than 50% of my Social Security benefit. Does her drawing of her own Social Security benefit early reduce her survivor benefit in any way?

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