Ask Terry Questions Early Retirement/Social Security/Widows Benefits

Early Retirement/Social Security/Widows Benefits

By Terry Savage on February 07, 2023 | Financial Planning / Retirement

Dear Terry,
I became a widow almost 10 years ago and never remarried. I was 53 years old. I was working full time until my brother passed away in 2020. No spouse or children. I was left an inheritance that allowed me to retire in 2021. I was 61. I am turning 63 and was told I cannot collect my social security now and then change to my husbands social security at 70. His social security is much higher. I thought you were allowed to collect your own and switch to your husbands later. He died at 58 so never collected social security. He did collect disability for a year before he passed.
Any information would be helpful.
Thank You,

Terry Says

OK, this was so convoluted that I had to check with a specialist at SS to get the answer. And everyone else who has such a tough question should go to and run the scenario to get the absolutely correct answer for $39.00!

That said, here is your answer in several parts.
1. A widow should NEVER wait til her age 70 to collect her spousal benefits, because those spousal benefits do NOT continue to grow after HER full retirement age.
2. So at YOUR FRA, you should apply to collect your late husband’s benefits.
BUT, that assumes that his benefits would be greater than yours on your own work record at that point.
3. YOU can collect your own benefits early –starting at age 62 — and then convert to your late husband’s benefits when you reach full retirement age. But you know that your retirement benefits are reduced significantly, although this strategy will give you some income for the years until you can compare and collect the better benefit at your FRA.

AND,all that presumes you were married for at least 10 years before you were widowed!



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