Will early retirement benefits reduce my wife’s Social Security widow’s benefits?

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Today’s Social Security column discusses questions about taking early retirement benefits before survivor benefits, switching from disability to retirement benefits at 62, and ideas for writing a letter appealing to reduced benefits. Larry Kotlikoff is professor of economics at Boston University and founder and president of Economic Security Planning, Inc.

See more Ask Larry answers here.

Do you have social security questions yourself that you would like to answer? Ask Larry about Social Security here.


Will early retirement benefits reduce my wife’s Social Security widow’s benefits?

Hello Larry, If my wife takes her Social Security retirement pension at 63 or 64, will her widow’s pension also be reduced if I die before her? She is a few years younger than me. Thanks Roy

Hello Roy, Your wife can still receive the full amount of your widow’s benefit even if she starts receiving her pension benefits earlier, as long as she does not start receiving the widow’s benefit before the age of retirement. full pension (FRA).

However, she could not collect both her own benefits and your full benefit rate at the same time, just the higher of the two amounts.

By the way, when I say your “total benefit amount” I mean the amount you were receiving at the time of your death plus any subsequent increase in the cost of living. So the sooner you start receiving your benefits before age 70, the lower your wife’s potential survival rate will be.

You and your wife may want to consider using my company’s software – Maximize My Social Security or MaxiFi Planner – to fully analyze your options so that you can make informed decisions about your best strategy to maximize your benefits and avoid losing out. unknowingly leaving money on the table. Social Security calculators provided by other businesses or nonprofits may provide suitable suggestions if they have been constructed with extreme care. Best, Larry


How much would my payments be if I switched from disability benefits to retirement benefits at age 62?

Hello Larry, I am currently on Social Security Disability. I’m 61 and about to be 62 in a few months and now I’m getting about $ 1,500 a month. How much would my payment be if I switched to Social Security retirement benefits? Would I benefit from changing? Thanks Paul

Hello Paul, Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) are paid at 100% of a person’s Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), which is equal to the Social Security retirement benefit rate that ‘she would receive if she started to draw at full retirement age (FRA).

In other words, benefiting from the SSDI is like receiving your entire unreduced Social Security pension benefit in advance. If you chose instead to start receiving your retirement benefits this year at age 62, your benefit rate would then be reduced based on age.

What you would then be paid is approximately 71% of your PIA. So, assuming $ 1,500 is roughly the gross amount of your SSDI benefit before any deductions or deductions, your benefit rate would drop to about $ 1,065 (i.e. $ 1,500 x 0.71 ) if you switch to social security retirement benefits at age 62.

SSDI benefits are automatically converted to regular Social Security retirement benefits at the same benefit rate when a person achieves FRA.

The only way a person could benefit from switching to pre-FRA retirement benefits is if a) their SSDI benefits are offset because they are receiving workers’ compensation or public disability benefits, or b) they have a spouse and / or children who might receive a higher benefit rate due to the higher maximum family benefit that is sometimes payable when the worker receives retirement benefits instead of SSDI. Best, Larry


I need a sample letter to appeal my benefits

Hi Larry, can you direct me to a sample letter calling for a recent benefit cut? Thanks, Lane

Hi Lane, I’m sorry, but I don’t know of any source for such sample letters of appeal. There are a plethora of different reasons people appeal, so it would likely be impossible to find a sample that would address your specific problem.

If your benefit payments have been reduced, there could be a number of reasons for this. I hope you received a letter from Social Security explaining why they reduced your benefit rate.

If not, you should probably call Social Security for a verbal explanation. If you think what Social Security did was correct, you will want to state in your appeal the specific reason (s) you disagree with their decision and what you think should be done to rectify the situation. . Best, Larry



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