Ask Terry Questions Surviving Spouse Social Security

Surviving Spouse Social Security

By Terry Savage on April 02, 2024 | Financial Planning / Retirement

Good morning Terry,

My husband passed away 8 years ago. I started to receive Surviving Spouse SS. In one of your earlier articles it said that at the age 60 the survivng spouse is entitled to 71.5% of the deceased spouse’s full benefit amount. It also said that between the age of 60 and full retirement age the benefit is prorated. I turned 67 in January2024. My question is, am I now entitled to 100% of my husbands full benefit amount?

Thank you for your help.

Terry Says

This is complicated. And I did not want to make a mistake, so I turned to my co-author and expert, Larry Kotlikoff. Here’s exactly what he sent me (and a bit of a translation after!):

The answer depends on if and when her husband started collecting retirement benefits and also when he died. MMSS will figure the correct amount. In general, the answer is she’ll get the larger of her retirement benefit and his retirement benefit if he was collecting when he died. She may do better to take her widows benefit now and her own retirement benefit at 70. Hence, it’s imperative she run MMSS. There are five different widows benefit formulas. If he started taking his retirement benefit early, a very complex RIBLIM formula is used. MMSS handles all five formulas.

Now you know why I turned to the expert. What he is referring to is his website, where for $39 you can get the absolutely correct answer. If you get stumped, they’ll help. I suggest you do it!!

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