Can a widow replace her benefit with the higher benefit of her husband?

4 answers | Last updated: Oct 12, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My Mom and Dad both took early SS benefits at age 62. My Dad passed away last February. Can my Mom now replace her benefit with Dad's reduced benefit, since his is about $80 more per month?

Expert Answers

Many people are entitled to both Social Security retirement or disability benefits based on their own work record and dependents or survivors benefits based on a spouse's work record. A person in that situation is not allowed to collect both benefits, but may receive whichever one is higher. And if, as in your mother's case, a person has already been receiving one type of Social Security benefit, she can switch to the higher benefit whenever she becomes eligible for it.

Your mother should contact the social Security Administration (800-772-1213) right away, first to make certain that her survivor's benefits based on your father's work record would be higher than her current retirement benefits. If it would be higher, she may be able to arrange to switch benefits over the phone, depending on what information your father previously provided to Social Security. If the switch can't be completed over the phone, the person she's talking to can make an appointment for her with her local Social Security office (you get much faster service at a local office if you make an appointment first). The person on the phone at Social Security can also tell your mother what documents she'll need to bring to her appointment (probably a picture ID, her and your father's Social Security numbers, a marriage certificate, and a death certificate for your father).

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

I applied for disability they gave me 500.00 a mounth. and some kind of kindness act with it. I cant live on this im 54 and a widow. cant I collect mine and my widow benefits if not just my husbands death benwefits. please help. reall struggleing.

Seniorsenior answered...

There is a site I use. You pay but they work with you. very inexpensive and great results (for myself).

A fellow caregiver answered...

You may wish to look into whether she can wait until she is 65 to put in for survivors benefits. If she is under 65 the survivors benefits will be reduced, may even be lower than her current benefits.

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