Social Security Survivor Benefits

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too analytical
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Social Security Survivor Benefits

Post by too analytical » Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:47 am

Widow is 64 with good work history.
Husband died in 2002 with good work history.

Can the widow collect survivor benefits until age 70 then switch to her own benefit if it is higher?

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ObliviousInvestor
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Post by ObliviousInvestor » Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:44 pm

This FAQ page about survivor benefits may be helpful: http://www.ssa.gov/ww&os2.htm
In many cases, you can begin receiving reduced benefits either on your own or your spouse's record at age 62 and then switch to the other benefit when you reach full retirement age, if that amount is higher.
Mike Piper, author/blogger

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Post by sscritic » Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:06 pm

I believe so. One of the conditions for widow's benefits is
(d) You are not entitled to an old-age benefit that is equal to or larger than the insured person's primary insurance amount.
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OP_Home/c ... 4-0335.htm

As long as she hasn't applied for her own old-age benefit, she is not entitled. Thus, she meets this requirement for a widow's benefit. She could collect this until her death (which widows without a good work history of their own will do).

Will she earn delayed credits while taking the widow's benefit until age 70? Yes.
You earn a credit for each month for which you are fully insured and eligible but do not receive an old-age benefit either because you do not apply for benefits or because you elect to voluntarily suspend your benefits to earn DRCs.
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OP_Home/c ... 4-0313.htm

A search of that page shows no reference to widow. The fact that she is collecting a widow's benefit does not affect her earning of delayed credits on her own old-age record.

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Re: Social Security Survivor Benefits

Post by ThePrune » Thu Feb 03, 2011 3:19 pm

too analytical wrote:Can the widow collect survivor benefits until age 70 then switch to her own benefit if it is higher?
Not that we really needed to doubt sscritic's answer (which was YES) :lol: , but I decided to check this out in the POMS. I was especially intrigued by this situation because at age 64 the widow would be starting survivor's benefits (WIB) before their Full Retirement Age (FRA), resulting in a reduction in survivor benefits.
GN 00204.039 Explaining Month of Election Options, C (6) wrote:A fully insured widow(er) has several options such as Widow(er) Insurance Benefits first and Retirement Insurance Benefits at FRA or at age 70 when he or she may receive Delayed Retirement Credits. Explain all options so the claimant can make an informed decision. RS 00615.160 explains the computation of RIB after WIB.
RS 00615.160 refered to in this quote states that as long as the widow(er) was born after 1/2/1928, there is no reduction in Retirement Insurance Benefits because Widow(er) Insurance Benefits were started before FRA.

So this different approach yields the same answer to too analytical's question: YES
And I got some practice using POMS, always an eye-opening experience :shock:

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Post by sscritic » Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:33 pm

To ThePrune:
Good read. I tend not to go to the POMS if I can find the answer in the Code of Federal Regulations.

To the OP:
If widow's benefits were all she would ever receive, then I would look at holding off until 66. However, 6 years of reduced benefits should beat 4 years of full benefits if the widow is going to switch to her own old-age benefits at 70.

If her own benefits were relatively small, then I would look at taking her own (reduced) for two years and then switching to widow's at 66.

In this case, neither of those apply. I am assuming that the values of his PIA (the widow's benefit at 66) and her own PIA multiplied by 1.32 to get her benefit at 70 were correctly computed, the latter being greater than the former.

P.S. Since she is already 64, it is less than 2 years until she turns 66 and less than 6 until she turns 70. All the calculations should be done by the month.

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Post by too analytical » Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:06 am

thanks for the responses

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Post by Bulldawg » Fri Feb 04, 2011 12:17 pm

Am I reading this correctly? can a widow whose husband was receiving SS disabilty benefits still collect her deceased husband's benefit as long as she doesn't remarry before age 60 ?
" IN GOD WE TRUST " ( official motto of the United States )

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Post by sscritic » Fri Feb 04, 2011 12:33 pm

Bulldawg wrote:Am I reading this correctly? can a widow whose husband was receiving SS disabilty benefits still collect her deceased husband's benefit as long as she doesn't remarry before age 60 ?
If the widow is 60
(c) You are at least 60 years old
The widow in the OP was 64, so she is at least 60. The amount received will be greatly reduced if a widow starts at 60.

If the widow is 34 and has children in care, then she is not a widow, she is a mother.
§404.339 How do I become entitled to mother's or father's benefits as a surviving spouse?
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OP_Home/c ... 4-0339.htm

Be more specific about the widow you are thinking about.

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Post by supersharpie » Fri Feb 04, 2011 1:05 pm

sscritic wrote:I believe so. One of the conditions for widow's benefits is
(d) You are not entitled to an old-age benefit that is equal to or larger than the insured person's primary insurance amount.
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OP_Home/c ... 4-0335.htm

As long as she hasn't applied for her own old-age benefit, she is not entitled. Thus, she meets this requirement for a widow's benefit. She could collect this until her death (which widows without a good work history of their own will do).

Will she earn delayed credits while taking the widow's benefit until age 70? Yes.
You earn a credit for each month for which you are fully insured and eligible but do not receive an old-age benefit either because you do not apply for benefits or because you elect to voluntarily suspend your benefits to earn DRCs.
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OP_Home/c ... 4-0313.htm

A search of that page shows no reference to widow. The fact that she is collecting a widow's benefit does not affect her earning of delayed credits on her own old-age record.
Know that in SSA parlance "entitlement" means "actively collecting" not "eligible." Therefore, as long as the survivor is not actively collecting RIB in excess of deceased's PIA they can elect to collect survivor's benefits and let the RIB grow in value.

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Post by Bulldawg » Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:48 pm

sscritic wrote:
Bulldawg wrote:Am I reading this correctly? can a widow whose husband was receiving SS disabilty benefits still collect her deceased husband's benefit as long as she doesn't remarry before age 60 ?
If the widow is 60
(c) You are at least 60 years old
The widow in the OP was 64, so she is at least 60. The amount received will be greatly reduced if a widow starts at 60.

If the widow is 34 and has children in care, then she is not a widow, she is a mother.
§404.339 How do I become entitled to mother's or father's benefits as a surviving spouse?
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OP_Home/c ... 4-0339.htm

Be more specific about the widow you are thinking about.
I'm thinking about a 50 yo woman I know with a 58 yo husband recently diagnosed with emphysema. They are receiving SS disability payments and he has been given 3 years to live. I was wondering if she would continue to receive his disability benefits if he should pass when she was 53 or so ?
" IN GOD WE TRUST " ( official motto of the United States )

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Post by sscritic » Fri Feb 04, 2011 7:18 pm

supersharpie wrote: Know that in SSA parlance "entitlement" means "actively collecting" not "eligible." Therefore, as long as the survivor is not actively collecting RIB in excess of deceased's PIA they can elect to collect survivor's benefits and let the RIB grow in value.
Not exactly. A man applies for old-age benefits at FRA and is entitled. His wife applies as his wife. He then suspends in order to earn delayed credits.

He is not "actively collecting," but is still entitled, and his wife is still eligible for wife's benefits. Entitled means just what the rules say entitled means --"We will find you entitled to xxxx benefits if (a list of conditions, one of which is apply)" -- and collecting has nothing to do with it.
We will find you entitled to old-age benefits if you meet the following three conditions:

In your example, the survivor could apply for RIB at FRA and suspend without collecting a penny and would lose the survivor benefits if the RIB were based on a PIA greater than the deceased's PIA.
We will find you entitled to benefits as the widow or widower of a person who died fully insured if you meet the requirements in paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section:
...
(d) You are not entitled to an old-age benefit that is equal to or larger than the insured person's primary insurance amount.
Collecting never is a consideration.

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Post by sscritic » Fri Feb 04, 2011 7:20 pm

Bulldawg wrote:
sscritic wrote: If the widow is 60
(c) You are at least 60 years old
I'm thinking about a 50 yo woman I know with a 58 yo husband recently diagnosed with emphysema. They are receiving SS disability payments and he has been given 3 years to live. I was wondering if she would continue to receive his disability benefits if he should pass when she was 53 or so ?
When she is 53, she will not be 60. She has to wait until she is 60. She will get the biggest benefit by waiting until her Full Retirement Age.

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Post by supersharpie » Fri Feb 04, 2011 10:43 pm

sscritic wrote:
supersharpie wrote: Know that in SSA parlance "entitlement" means "actively collecting" not "eligible." Therefore, as long as the survivor is not actively collecting RIB in excess of deceased's PIA they can elect to collect survivor's benefits and let the RIB grow in value.
Not exactly. A man applies for old-age benefits at FRA and is entitled. His wife applies as his wife. He then suspends in order to earn delayed credits.

He is not "actively collecting," but is still entitled, and his wife is still eligible for wife's benefits. Entitled means just what the rules say entitled means --"We will find you entitled to xxxx benefits if (a list of conditions, one of which is apply)" -- and collecting has nothing to do with it.
We will find you entitled to old-age benefits if you meet the following three conditions:

In your example, the survivor could apply for RIB at FRA and suspend without collecting a penny and would lose the survivor benefits if the RIB were based on a PIA greater than the deceased's PIA.
We will find you entitled to benefits as the widow or widower of a person who died fully insured if you meet the requirements in paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section:
...
(d) You are not entitled to an old-age benefit that is equal to or larger than the insured person's primary insurance amount.
Collecting never is a consideration.
Upon further consideration you are certainly correct. Entitled means that you have filed for the benefit. However, if a widow(er) has never filed for any benefits and is eligible for a survivor benefit that is smaller than his or her own RIB PIA he or she may elect to file for the survivor benefit.

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Re: Social Security Survivor Benefits

Post by Kuyper » Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:49 am

I'd like a review of a related situation:

Widow is 62 and has a PIA RIB of $1000.
Widow's benefit is $2000 at FRA.

It is my understanding that the widow can apply for personal RIB (25% reduction because filing at 62) and then apply for full (unreduced) widow's (survivor) benefit at 66. It appears to me that you need to apply for widow's benefits before you are entitled to these benefits which would suggest you can delay if desirable.

Correct?

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Re: Social Security Survivor Benefits

Post by sscritic » Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:00 pm

Applying is always required for entitlement, with the exception of some cases of automatic conversion. For example, disability automatically becomes old-age at FRA. I would give you other examples, but the website is still down for maintenance (or so it seems), as it has been since Saturday.

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Re: Social Security Survivor Benefits

Post by Kuyper » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:13 pm

Thanks sscritic! I just wanted to make sure that death of a spouse didn't in some way create entitlement.

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Re: Social Security Survivor Benefits

Post by alaskantraveler » Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:31 am

Jumping on this old thread because of a similar situation. This is in regards to my father.

Wife passed away at age 61. Father currently age 63. He has the higher RIB. He has just retired. I believe he can claim survivor benefits now at a reduced amt, then claim on his own record at FRA? Claiming survivor benefits at age 63 will not affect his own RIB at FRA, right?

Also my mother was exposed to the windfall elimination provision due to working at a state government that did not pay into ss. I have an estimate that says here fra benefit would.Have been $680 before the elimination provision. I assume my father's survivor benefits are impacted by my mother's windfall elimination?

If he applies for survivor benefits now, they will be reduced approximately 13% due to applying early. I believe the amt he receives Will be my mother's fra benefit reduced by the windfall elimination provision the less 13%?

Either way, I believe he is eligible for survivor benefits, and claiming them before his fra Will not impact his own benefit when claimed at FRA, so he should go ahead and apply and receive whatever ss calculates he should receive. Should he just call a ss representative first, or jus go ahead and apply online?

This is complicated!

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Re: Social Security Survivor Benefits

Post by Ruger » Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:30 am

alaskantraveler wrote:
Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:31 am


Wife passed away at age 61. Father currently age 63. He has the higher RIB. He has just retired. I believe he can claim survivor benefits now at a reduced amt, then claim on his own record at FRA?

Either way, I believe he is eligible for survivor benefits, and claiming them before his fra Will not impact his own benefit when claimed at FRA, so he should go ahead and apply and receive whatever ss calculates he should receive. Should he just call a ss representative first, or jus go ahead and apply online?

This is complicated!
It is complicated. I went through this process two years ago...he can apply for survivor benefits, receive them, and let his own benefits grow until age 70 and then switch over to his own benefits. This is what I am doing now.

You can't apply for survivor benefits online, you have to go in person.

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Re: Social Security Survivor Benefits

Post by Ruger » Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:49 pm

too analytical wrote:
Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:47 am
Widow is 64 with good work history.
Husband died in 2002 with good work history.

Can the widow collect survivor benefits until age 70 then switch to her own benefit if it is higher?
Yes. I am currently collecting survivor's benefits and will switch to my own, higher benefit when I turn 70.

alaskantraveler
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Re: Social Security Survivor Benefits

Post by alaskantraveler » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:25 pm

In researching I did find out that the windfall elimination provision does not affect survivor benefits. It only affects spousal benefits. So even though my mother was subject to a 50% reduction from WEP, my father's survivor benefits Will not be reduced by the WEP.

FinancialDave
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Re: Social Security Survivor Benefits

Post by FinancialDave » Mon Oct 02, 2017 9:31 pm

Does it really make sense to delay past age 60 for someone who has a much higher credit themselves? If they are planning to wait on their own benefit until age 70 and they turn 60 now, it seems like simple math to get all the Survivor payments you can as waiting a year or two are going to lose you more money than you will ever make up??

PS, by the way Mike Piper's link above does not work anymore -- anyone have a corrected link?

Dave
I love simulated data. It turns the impossible into the possible!

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Re: Social Security Survivor Benefits

Post by halfnine » Tue Oct 03, 2017 2:52 pm

alaskantraveler wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:25 pm
In researching I did find out that the windfall elimination provision does not affect survivor benefits. It only affects spousal benefits. So even though my mother was subject to a 50% reduction from WEP, my father's survivor benefits Will not be reduced by the WEP.
That is my understanding as well.

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