Social Security Survivor Benefits
Public Service Announcement - PLEASE share!!
Do you know any widow/widowers under 70 years old?? I continue to be frustrated at clients getting WRONG information from Social Security offices. When someone is widowed, they can collect a survivor SS benefit OR their own SS benefit and it does NOT have to be the higher of the two!! Why would you do that? If your survivor benefit at Full Retirement Age (currently 66.5) is $1500, but your own benefit is $2000 - you 100% would want to take the survivor benefit first. You get $500/mo less for 3.5 years, but then get $2560/mo for the rest of your life because your own benefit grew 28% to age 70 with Delayed Retirement Credits!! It takes less than that 3.5 years to make up for the $500/mo you lost and you stay at the higher amount (plus COLA) for life!! An audit done in 2018 found that 82% of beneficiaries weren't given this information - as of 2020 that number was apparently down below 50% but this is unacceptable. (Per https://www.forbes.com/sites/bobcarlson/2020/07/15/social-security-continues-to-underpay-surviving-spouses/?sh=19fd9978c0bc ) SS workers ARE PUSHING BENEFICIARIES to take the higher initial amount and EVEN WORSE telling them that they CANNOT take the lower amount first.
Here is SS's own guide which clearly lays out this option under "A Few Other Situations" yet their own employees don't know the rules. https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/survivors/ifyou.html
So frustrating!! If you know anyone in this situation - please learn these rules or have them contact me to discuss this further.