Another Social Security question

If a spouse takes her Social Security at 62 she will receive a decrease amount.

If her spouse delays taking his social until 70 he will receive an increased amount.

If he passes away after receiving the increased amount will she receive the full amount he is receiving or will it be reduced because of her taking her social security early?

Thanks, Dusty

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If he passes away after receiving the increased amount will she receive the full amount he is receiving or will it be reduced because of her taking her social security early?

She should get the full amount, but she can only get that benefit and not take hers as well (the larger of the two benefits is typically the rule).….



It’s complicated.
Here’s the rules.…

Survivor rules
He did file before death. “Early” means before FRA (normally 66).

Filed early Larger of his reduced benefit OR 82.5% of his FRA amount
Not early: Her reduced spousal benefit (based on her age) applied to his increased amount

He did not file before death:
Died early: His FRA amount
Not early: Her reduced spousal benefit applied to the amount he would have gotten if he filed at date of death.

Widow benefit base:
If he filed early His reduced benefit., but not more than 82.5% of his FRA benefit. ( 13 months of reduction)
If he filed not early His benefit (perhaps bumped up.)
Not filed, died early His FRA benefit
Not filed, no die early His benefit at date of death (perhaps bumped up.)

Widow benefit reduction, based on her age vs. 66
Widow benefit base reduced by # of months before she is 66.
No increase past 66.


Interesting file, I’we’re well past that decision point, back in '02 I was made an ‘offer’ to add an annuity onto the pension of that time, and saw workload dropping, so I’d end up on the road forever, so I grabbed it, just prior to 62, then filed for SS at 62, else it would have been 62 & 8 months for the full SS… Part time work didn’t happen DW was still working, so we slid by OK… Sorted out investment of my near 40 years in WeCo/T/LU and ended up with some dividends at the time, later my AAPL took off, also added dividends, so did OK…

Anyway, I downloaded that .xls file, and realized you must have many, many hours in creating it, checking, annotating, etc… Do you have any idea how many hours that was?

Nice work in any case… Thanks


Anyway, I downloaded that .xls file, and realized you must have many, many hours in creating it, checking, annotating, etc… Do you have any idea how many hours that was?

Many many, over a period of about 5 years. It was mostly a hobby—and who counts the hours you spend on a hobby. Some people build huge model train setups, some people restore century-old gas & steam engines.

The obvious question to me was: Instead of just counting numbers of dollars and ignoring the time value of money, what if you took the early SS and invested in, then at 70 started drawing it down to true up to the total benefit that you’d get if you deferred to 70? What rate of return would take you past your expected lifetime before this side investment account was exhausted.

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Hobbies, indeed… My workplace kept me out of town a lot, but I did play in Excel for a while, sorting out Net Worth, trying to sot of the stock that came along with employment, splits, mergers, etc… Eventually that hobby faded to others… Interest to go back, look at the numbers then vs now…

That same work situation let me see it was crumbling, so that offer was all it took to much me over the edge, and out… That was 20 years ago! Helped grandkids through college, traveled, remodeled… Blink and look back at a lot done, and still stable…



SS Survivor benefit is complicated, as there are so many combinations. The survivor benefit and the normal retirement benefit are handled separately allowing the survivor to switch between them at a later date while the normal retirement benefit combines the spousal benefit and the workers benefit and takes the greater of the two.

To be eligible for a survivor benefit the couple must have been married at least 9 months and the surviving spouse not remarried at age 60. Also note that the FRA for a survivor may be slightly different than the FRA for their own benefit

If benefits had not yet started at death and the decedent had not attained his FRA, the SSA will determine the decedent’s Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), which is the amount the decedent would have received at his FRA had he not died. All survivor benefits are determined from this PIA. If the deceased spouse was older than his FRA, the PIA will include amounts added from Delayed Retirement Credits (DRCs) which increase the PIA by 8% per year up to age 70.

Here are the combinations when one spouse (let’s say HE) dies:

A. Neither spouse had began benefits

  1. If survivor is younger than survivor FRA, she may begin receiving reduced survivor benefits based on the deceased spouse PIA as early as age 60 while allowing her own benefit to continue to build, including delayed retirement credits (DRC) up to age 70. She may switch from the survivor benefit to her own benefit at any time

  2. Begin her own benefit as early as age 62 and let the survivor benefit continue to grow (actually, to reduce the early start penalty) up to her own survivor Full Retirement Age, then switch to survivor benefit, as it will NOT accrue DRCs.

B. She began her benefit and he had not when he died. His PIA will be calculated.

  1. Continue her benefit and delay the survivor benefit if it is greater when she attains her survivor FRA. If he died after his FRA, his PIA amount will include any DRC amount. If so, the only benefit to delaying starting the survivor benefit is if she is not yet at her survivor FRA, but she has the option of waiting to her survivor FRA to switch or to switch sooner.

  2. If she is within the first year of her own benefit, she can halt it, pay back SS the dollar amount she had received up to that point and treat it as though she had not began. She could then take the survivorship benefit and let her benefit grow, to include DRCs (8% per year) up to age 70 and then switch.

C. He began his benefit then died and she had not began hers. The survivor benefit is whatever the deceased spouse benefit was when he died including any DRCs.

  1. She can begin the survivor benefit as early as age 60, reduced for each month she begins prior to her survivor FRA and let hers go forward up to age 70 and switch then or anytime prior to it.

  2. If he began his benefit prior to his FRA and then died, she can take the greater of his survivor benefit or 82.5% of his PIA, reduced if not at her FRA, and let hers grow to include DRCs.

D. Dies after both have started benefits

  1. Survivor takes the greater of her benefit or his benefit that will be reduced if she begins his benefit amount prior to her survivor FRA

To quantify when it is optimal to begin one benefit or to switch will require something like Rayvt’s excel spread sheet, which looks pretty thorough although I have’t used it yet. But also keep in mind that any benefit begun prior to FRA will be reduced if the survivor has earned income over $1,630/mo for 2022. However, in the months of the year leading up to the month one attains their FRA, the earned income limit before any penalty jumps up to $4,330 and the actual penalty is decreased. At FRA, there is no penalty for any amount of earned income.