Q: I have heard about the changes to Social Security benefits. Currently, I am 62 and drawing Social Security on my husband who passed away in 2005. I am able to do that because my son is disabled and has a rare syndrome that is not curable. I worked for 37 years with the same company but felt I would draw more on my husband. When I went to a Social Security office some years ago, they did tell me that they would automatically roll me over to his full benefit at age 66. What would be your ideas on my situation and what questions should I ask them?
A: You and your disabled child are entitled to your late husband’s survivor benefits as long as:
- Your child is unmarried and was permanently disabled before age 22
- You were at least 50 years old (which you would have been if you are currently 62 and he passed away in 2005)
- If you start your survivor benefit before your full retirement age, it is reduced, in this case by about 28.5%
When you and your child started receiving survivor benefits, you were not “deemed” to be applying for your lifetime benefits as well.
Since you have worked for 37 years and you have not filed for your lifetime benefit, there is a chance that your lifetime benefit could be greater than your survivor benefit.
Before you go into a Social Security office, I would recommend that you:
- Go to https://secure.ssa.gov/RIL/SiView.do
- Sign in and review your personal Social Security Statement
- If you don’t have a username and password, click “Create An Account” and follow the steps
Once you have your statement, look and see what lifetime benefits you are eligible for on your earnings at:
- Full Retirement Age (66-67 depending on your year of birth)
- Age 70
- Age 62
It may be to your and your child’s benefit to continue to receive your survivor benefits until age 70 and then step up to higher lifetime benefits based on your earnings record.