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Jonathan Tierney
Jonathan Tierney, Certified Public Accountant
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 322
Experience:  Tax Accountant at Praxair, Inc.
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I am a widow who has not filed benefits - I will be 65 in

Customer Question

I am a widow who has not filed for survivor benefits - I will be 65 in Sept of 15 and plan on retiring in Sept or Dec of 16 at age 66. My husband died at age 40 so my benefits will exceed his. I am thinking of applying for his benafits and drawing until I retire at age 66 and then switching to mine. If i understand correctly i will not be penalized by the $ 15,000 rule and can earn any amount of money.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Jonathan Tierney replied 2 years ago.

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: and you can estimate your benefit using this online calculator here 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:, 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