Social Security Matters November 30, 2022

Date:

Association of Adult American Citizens

Ask Rusty – Can a Working Widow Collect Survivor Benefits?

Dear Rusty: I am 63 and still working. My husband passed away 7 years ago at the age of 58. Can I Collect My Husband’s Social Security While I’m Still Working? Signed: working widow

Best Working Widow: Technically, at age 63, you’re eligible to collect a survivor’s benefit from your husband, but since you’re working, we need to dig a little deeper.

Any time benefits are taken before full retirement age, the Social Security means test applies. The income test limits how much you can earn working before they take away some (or even all) of your Social Security benefits. If your annual income for 2023 will be more than $21,240, then Social Security will take away benefits equal to $1 for every $2 you exceed that limit. If you earn substantially more than the limit, it may even temporarily mean that you are no longer eligible to collect your survivor benefit (because your benefit may not be enough to offset the penalty for exceeding the limit). So if you work part-time and do not exceed the limit or only slightly exceed it, you can now request your survivor benefit from your husband and simply pay the fine from your benefit. But if you work full-time and are well over the annual limit, you may want to delay filing for your survivor benefits until you reach full retirement age (FRA) or stop working.

If you turn 63 in 2022, your FRA will be 66 years and 10 months and the means test will apply until you reach that age. Your spouse’s surviving dependant’s benefit is at its maximum four months earlier (this will be reduced early by 4.75% per full year if applied for earlier). So, what should you do? I suggest you look at your own estimated maximum benefit (age 70) and compare that to your spouse’s maximum survivor benefit. You should strive to maximize the highest benefit and claim that maximum benefit for the rest of your life. For example, if your FRA survivor’s benefit will be higher than your personal 70-year benefit, then it’s smart to wait for your FRA to claim your survivor’s benefit and collect it for the rest of your life. If instead your personal 70th birthday benefit is higher than your maximum survivor benefit with your FRA, then you may want to apply for the survivor benefit first and max out your personal benefit and switch to your own higher benefit at age 70.

In any case, because you work, you should be careful about the income limit until you reach your full retirement age. The income limit goes up a little each year, and the year you reach your FRA, it goes up (about 2.5 times) and the fine is lower. There is no longer an income limit once you reach full retirement age, but if you decide to apply for Social Security before your FRA, you should pay close attention to whether your earnings will exceed each year’s annual limit.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not represent legal or financial guidance. It presents the views and interpretations of AMAC Foundation staff trained and accredited by the National Social Security Association (NSSA). NSSA and the AMAC Foundation and its staff are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government agency. To ask a question, visit our website (amacfoundation.org/programs/social-security-advisory) or email us [email protected].

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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