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Life Events :  Widowhood

Widows Benefits

Widowhood
Social Security Benefits

If your husband dies, you can receive widow's benefits if you are 60 or older. If you're disabled, you can get widow's benefits as early as age 50.

The amount of your monthly payment will depend on your age when you start getting benefits. It also will depend on the amount your deceased spouse would have been entitled to, or was receiving, when they died.

Widow's benefits range from 71 1/2 percent of the deceased husband's benefit amount if they begin at age 60 to 100 percent if they begin at 65. So, if you start receiving benefits at 65, you'll get 100 percent of the amount your husband would be receiving if he were still alive. (Starting in 2006, the age at which the 100 percent widow's benefit is payable will be increased gradually until it reaches 66 in 2011 and 67 in 2029).

If you are a disabled widow between the ages of 50 and 59, your monthly benefit would be 71 1/2 percent of your deceased husband's benefit amount.

The following are some points to remember:

  1. If you are entitled to retirement benefits on your own work record, you can take reduced retirement payments at age 62 and then receive the full widow's benefit at 65.

  2. If you are eligible for benefits on your own work record, you may want to take reduced widow's benefits until you are age 65 and file a claim for retirement benefits on your own record; and

  3. If you delay your retirement beyond age 65, your future benefits will increase each year by a certain percentage. For example, if you were born in 1935, your benefit will increase six percent each year you delay retirement between ages 65 and 70.

A Social Security representative can tell you which choice would be to your advantage.


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