Social Security Questions? Ask a Social Security Expert
Until you reach your full retirement age, you will be penalized with $1 in reduced benefits for every $2 that exceed the Social Security earnings limit, which is $15,720 for 2015. However, there is no disadvantage to applying for survivor's benefits as your benefits based upon your own record will not be affected by your claim for survivor's benefit. You can read more about survivor's benefits here: http://goo.gl/Y4ZO2q and you can estimate your benefit using this online calculator here http://goo.gl/901A7U. Once you reach retirement age, you are able to earn any amount without any reduction in benefits. Here is an article about a situation where a widow was facing a situation where her retirement benefits based upon her own record would never be higher than her survivor's benefit: http://goo.gl/guZ6cQ, and note the last paragraph where if you own earnings record would exceed your survivor's benefit it would most likely be better to claim the survivor's benefit earlier.
I hope this answers your question. Let me know if I can clarify anything or answer any additional questions. Jonathan