Ask Terry Questions Social Security vs. Social Security death benefit

Social Security vs. Social Security death benefit

By Terry Savage on January 06, 2024 | Financial Planning / Retirement

Can you explain these 2 types of social security and what a surviving spouse over 60 would receive at retirement if their spouse passes away? I’m confused if you get both yours and your husband’s ss, or just yours, or what…. thank you! Love listening to you every Wednesday on WGN!

Terry Says

Assuming you were married at the time of your spouse’s death, you are entitled to 100% of his benefits at your Full Retirement Age. You can receive reduced benefits as early as age 60.

But you cannot receive BOTH your benefit and his. You will receive the larger of the two.
One strategy is to file for survivor’s benefits at age 60 — a reduced amount. AND then switch to your own benefit at your full retirement age, assuming that would be larger.

Here’s an article you might find interesting.

This is a tricky calculation — and isn’t helped by asking SS. They run what my co-author Larry Kotlikoff has dubbed “The Widow’s Scam” — tricking people into signing up for BOTH benefits, thereby denying your the larger benefit on your own account if you wanted to wait to take yours!!
Yes, it’s complicated. That’s why I recommend paying $39 and using their software, found at Make sure you aren’t taken in by this SS scam!

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