Page 1 of 1

SSDI Widow Benefit

Posted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:07 pm
by eastlansingspartans
Hi Bogleheads,

Hoping one of you could shed some light on the SSDI system and how survivor's benefits work.

Is the benefit based on the survivor's age when the disabled spouse dies or when the survivor applies for the benefit?

My father is terminally ill and on SSDI. My mother is not yet 60. I am aware that the survivor benefit at age 60 is 70.5% and goes up gradually to 100% at full retirement age. If the wife is 59 and 11 months when the husband dies will the SSDI benefit be $0, or could she "apply" when she chooses?


The current plan I have for my mother is as follows:

Claim her own SS retirement benefits at 62 and 100% of the SSDI survivor benefit at FRA.

Any and all information would be appreciated! Thanks!

Re: SSDI Widow Benefit

Posted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:00 pm
by 123
The benefit to a widow is based on the widow's age at the time she claims benefits. A widow who is age 60 or older who has had work on her own may want to get estimates of both benefits to decide how she wishes to proceed. While she could claim widow's benefits at age 60 she would only be eligible for her "own" retirements benefits at age 62. If a widow claims widow's benefits at age 60 and decides to "switch over" to her own typically she would do it at either age 62, her FRA, or age 70 (to maximize the benefit of delayed retirement credits). There are a lot of personal aspects depending on the needs of the widow. Depending on how much could be gained by switching over, and the need for the income by the widow, different widows could make different decisions, each of which was right for them. The local Social Security office should be able to provide estimates of the alternatives and then it is a simple matter of determining the most suitable strategy.

A widows benefit could be impacted by the eligibility for a public pension based on her own work (teacher, civil service, etc) if that work was not covered by Social Security.

Re: SSDI Widow Benefit

Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:35 pm
by eastlansingspartans
123 wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:00 pm
The benefit to a widow is based on the widow's age at the time she claims benefits. A widow who is age 60 or older who has had work on her own may want to get estimates of both benefits to decide how she wishes to proceed. While she could claim widow's benefits at age 60 she would only be eligible for her "own" retirements benefits at age 62. If a widow claims widow's benefits at age 60 and decides to "switch over" to her own typically she would do it at either age 62, her FRA, or age 70 (to maximize the benefit of delayed retirement credits). There are a lot of personal aspects depending on the needs of the widow. Depending on how much could be gained by switching over, and the need for the income by the widow, different widows could make different decisions, each of which was right for them. The local Social Security office should be able to provide estimates of the alternatives and then it is a simple matter of determining the most suitable strategy.

A widows benefit could be impacted by the eligibility for a public pension based on her own work (teacher, civil service, etc) if that work was not covered by Social Security.
So, to be clear, if my father passes away when she is 59, she can chose to delay claiming SSDI survivor's benefits until a time when she sees fit?

Re: SSDI Widow Benefit

Posted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:26 am
by 123
eastlansingspartans wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:35 pm
...So, to be clear, if my father passes away when she is 59, she can chose to delay claiming SSDI survivor's benefits until a time when she sees fit?
Yes. That is correct.

Re: SSDI Widow Benefit

Posted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:12 pm
by eastlansingspartans
123 wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:26 am
[quote=eastlansingspartans post_id=3717564 time=<a href="tel:1515803742">1515803742</a> user_id=123167]
...So, to be clear, if my father passes away when she is 59, she can chose to delay claiming SSDI survivor's benefits until a time when she sees fit?

Yes. That is correct.
Thank you for your insight. Unfortunately the more I read the more I think it’s locked in at time of death.

This website, for example: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/survivors/onyourown5.html

Can you find documentation to support delaying a SSDI survivor’s benefit?

Re: SSDI Widow Benefit

Posted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 7:37 pm
by AndrewXnn
Sorry to hear about your Father.

I'm no expert on SSDI, but suspect that your Mother would be better off if she continues working or returning to the work force.

Re: SSDI Widow Benefit

Posted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:02 pm
by eastlansingspartans
AndrewXnn wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 7:37 pm
Sorry to hear about your Father.

I'm no expert on SSDI, but suspect that your Mother would be better off if she continues working or returning to the work force.
Thank you.

I agree. Once she’s no longer in a caregiver role we hope she’ll return to the workforce.

Re: SSDI Widow Benefit

Posted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:11 pm
by billfromct
It's my understanding that if you are receiving SS benefits (survivor or your own) & under your full retirement age (FRA), you can only earn up to $17,040 in 2018 before SS claws back $1 in SS for every $2 over the $17,040 earned income figure.

The SS amount that you would receive at FRA is recalculated for the the SS amount held back if you earn over the $17k while collecting SS.

You have to crunch the numbers based on how much she would earn if she went back to work & her SS benefit.

bill

Re: SSDI Widow Benefit

Posted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:08 pm
by eastlansingspartans
I think it’s a black eye on the SSA’s literature that it’s so difficult to get an answer on such a crucial question.