Broker Check

Eligible for Survivor Benefits?

March 06, 2013
I recently met a widower at my local YMCA who mentioned that he had just applied for his Survivor Benefit.  He wasn’t quite sure of all the details, but here’s how it works. Anytime after age 60, a surviving spouse (or surviving divorced-spouse) may choose to receive only their survivor benefit, even if it is lower than their own benefit. They may then claim their own benefit later — the full, unreduced benefit at Full Retirement Age, or the Delayed Retirement Credits - enhanced benefit at 70. Taking a reduced survivor benefit will not cause their own Social Security Retirement benefit to be reduced. Also, even a surviving divorced-spouse (if they meet certain qualifications) who applies can receive survivor benefits after age 60, as long as he or she remains unmarried or if remarriage took place after age 60.  It may not even occur to people who were divorced many years ago that they could be entitled to survivor benefits on a former spouse's work record if that spouse has died. Oh yes, one last bit of information.  My new acquaintance mentioned that he was continuing to work while he receives his Survivor Benefit. If he is under full retirement age for the entire year, Social Security will deduct $1 from his benefit payments for every $2 he earns above the annual limit.  For 2013, that limit is $15,120.