Saturday, March 19, 2011

Delayed Retirement Credits After Reduced Widow's Benefits

Anonymous from Florida writes:
My ex passed away when we were both in our 50's, and I came across a copy of your excellent reference book [Social Security Benefits Handbook]. So at age 60 I filed for and receive reduced SS survivor benefits on the record of my ex. Your book indicates in an example that I can change to a full benefit on my own record when I reach my FRA. What isn't indicated is whether that change could occur at any age I'm eligible for a higher benefit on my own record. In particular, can I continue the survivor benefit as long as I wish, thus delaying my benefit until age 68 or 70 and receive delayed credits. If this is possible, do I need to inform SSA of my intentions at some point?

ANSWER: Thank you for the compliment about my book! I do appreciate it. The direct answers to your questions are: yes, you can delay filing for your own retirement benefit so as to maximize the amount of delayed retirement credits, and no, you don't have to inform SSA of your intentions, until you make the application. You can file for the retirement benefits on your own account whenever you wish, whether before or after FRA (full retirement age). If you file before, the benefit will be reduced for age, but if it's higher than the widow's benefit and you need the money, you can do this. Or, as you indicated, if you want to wait to get the Delayed Retirement Credits, you can do that too. In short, you can file for your own benefits whenever it is advantageous for you.

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