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Advice for Widow about Taking DH's SS Benefit?
Old 05-20-2019, 10:52 AM   #1
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Advice for Widow about Taking DH's SS Benefit?

Hi. My sister lost her husband to a sudden heart attack 9 years ago. He was self-employed for many years (owned a commercial/residential cleaning company).

I don't know much about what he contributed to SS over his lifetime (died at 58).

But my sister turns 60 this month and I understand can start claiming part of his SS benefits as his widow.

She still works full time at a stressful job for $40K/year (has 15+ years left on mortgage).

Anyone have any experience with taking a spouse's benefits vs. waiting for their own? I'm hoping she can start getting what she's due under his benefits, then switch to her own at 62 if her benefit is higher than his.

But also wondering if she can continue working full time at her job while she's taking his SS benefit.

I know she can call them and ask, but I like the thought of getting real-world advice here too, so we have a better idea of what questions to ask when she calls SS to sign up. Thank you!
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Old 05-20-2019, 12:44 PM   #2
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I had a friend in this exact situation. She was working and took his at 60 and her own later.
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Old 05-20-2019, 03:11 PM   #3
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According to ssa.gov if you earn above a limit your benefits get reduced. For someone making 40 K it would seem unlikely to be worth taking it

you are younger than full retirement age and make more than the yearly earnings limit, your earnings may reduce your benefit amount. (Full retirement age is 66 for people born between 1943 and 1954. Beginning with 1955, two months are added for every birth year until the full retirement age reaches 67 for people born in 1960 or later.)

If you are under full retirement age for the entire year, we deduct $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit. For 2019, that limit is $17,640.

In the year you reach full retirement age, we deduct $1 in benefits for every $3 you earn above a different limit. In 2019, the limit on your earnings is $46,920 but we only count earnings before the month you reach your full retirement age.
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Old 05-20-2019, 04:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoReadyToRetire View Post
Anyone have any experience with taking a spouse's benefits vs. waiting for their own? I'm hoping she can start getting what she's due under his benefits, then switch to her own at 62 if her benefit is higher than his.
First of all, if she is a widow, she is not entitled to spousal benefits. Instead, she is entitled to survivor benefits.

Yes, she can start (reduced) survivor benefits at 60 and could switch over to her own (reduced) benefits at 62.

That may not be the optimal solution though, particularly while still working. If she can afford to do so, she may be better off waiting to collect her own full benefits at her FRA. Or perhaps even delaying until 70. She really needs to learn the amounts in order to make a sound decision.

Quote:
But also wondering if she can continue working full time at her job while she's taking his SS benefit.
Certainly she can continue working full time. Social Security never requires that someone stop working in order to collect.


This might help her: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/survivors/ifyou.html
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