When one spouse dies, the survivor (typically, but not always the woman) has the option to take the larger of two benefits: her own or 100 percent of her late spouse’s benefit. The game sounds simple, and for many couples, it is.
But in many cases ... it sometimes makes sense for a widow to take her own benefit for a while, switching to the survivor benefit later. Or it may make sense to start with a survivor benefit and switch later to her own benefit.
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"He also warns that couples should be aware that the Social Security Administration will not reach out to you with guidance. “When someone passes away, they aren’t going to call you and say ‘Hey, you really should switch over to your own benefit.’”
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