If a wife collects her retirement benefits at age 62 and her husband collects at age 70, what amount of survivor benefit will she receive if he dies before her?

Published: September 21, 2020

Full Question: If a wife collects her social security at age 62, taking a 30% cut for early distributions, and her husband waits till 70 to collect his. If the husbands then passes away, I know the wife is entitled to receive his survivor benefit. This benefit includes the extra 32% because he waited to collect. My question is, does her early distribution penalty stay with her? So does she receive his Full retirement benefit, plus his additional 32%, less her 30% cut?


Assuming her retirement benefit amount is less than her husband’s was when he died, she can apply for survivor benefits as a widow. The survivor of a couple only receives the higher amount of the couples’ two benefits, not a combination of both benefits.

The amount that she will receive depends on her age at the time of his death, but is never more than 100% of the amount her husband was collecting.

If she is her full retirement age (FRA) or older, she will receive 100 percent of her husband’s benefit amount.

If she is age 60 up to her full retirement age, she will receive 71½ to 99 percent of his benefit amount depending on her exact age.

The Social Security Administration should be notified as soon as possible when a person dies. However, you cannot report a death or apply for survivors benefits online.

In most cases, the funeral home will report the person’s death to the SSA. You should give the funeral home the deceased person’s Social Security number if you want them to make the report.

A Registered Social Security Analyst can help you with your own specific details.

Take care,

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