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Ask Bob: Will I Receive My Deceased Spouse's Full Social Security Benefit If I Claimed My Benefits Early?

A surviving spouse getting retirement or disability benefits on their own record will need to apply for the survivors benefits and Social Security will check to see whether the surviving spouse can get a higher benefit as a widow or widower.

Question

I hope I don’t outlive my husband but this question is for in case I do. He is 77 and I am 71. I filed for Social Security benefits prior to full retirement age and continued working part time. If my husband passes away before I do, will I receive his full benefits after he passes away? Or would I still only receive 50% of his benefits or less? Your answer will help provide information for planning for the what-ifs.

Answer

The short answer to your question is, yes, says Mathew Allen, co-founder and co-CEO of Social Security Advisors. “Because you are already over full retirement age (between 65 and 67 depending on year of birth), if you were to outlive your husband and his benefit is higher than your benefit, you would be able to file for survivor benefits to receive 100% of his benefits for the balance of your lifetime.”

This answer, said Allen, assumes that you do not have a non-covered pension (basically, a pension from a job where you did not pay into Social Security). If someone has a non-covered pension there is a rule called the Government Pension Offset or GPO that can reduce the survivor benefit. He recommends using a professional Social Security filing service to help when filing for Social Security if, in a prior job, an individual didn’t pay into Social Security and a pension is provided.

If you were to outlive your husband, in most cases, you would need to file for the survivor benefit, and, he adds, “If you were to file for the higher survivor benefit, bear in mind, your lower benefit would then stop so that is important to include in your planning.”

Got questions? Get answers!

Email Robert.Powell@maven.io

Question

I hope I don’t outlive my husband but this question is for in case I do. He is 77 and I am 71. I filed for Social Security benefits prior to full retirement age and continued working part time. If my husband passes away before I do, will I receive his full benefits after he passes away? Or would I still only receive 50% of his benefits or less? Your answer will help provide information for planning for the what-ifs.

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