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If a spouse dies and the deceased spouse ss has been

activated and the others has...
If a spouse dies and the deceased spouse ss has been activated and the others has not, can the surviving spouse collect the ss of the deceased until 70 when they then activate their own ss? They make the same amount of money.
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
10/29/2017
emc011075
emc011075, Tax Adviser
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 3,385
Experience: Tax adviser IRS licensed Enrolled Agent and tax instructor
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Hi. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to help you.

It depends on the age of the surviving spouse. If the surviving spouse was 62 or older on Dec 31, 2015 then at his full retirement age he can file for restricted benefits (collect spousal/survivor) and let his own grow until 70. If not, he can still collect survivor benefits until his full retirement age and then switch to his own benefits.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
The surviving spouse is 58 now. So they would be able to collect their spouses SS at 100% of whatever it is and then at 70 activate theirs?

No. If the surviving spouse applies for surviving benefits (not spouse's or spousal) before his full retirement age, he will receive reduced survivor benefits until his full retirement age (not 70) and then he can switch to his own full benefits. The earliest the surviving spouse can apply for survivor benefits is 60 (50 if he is disabled). If survivor benefits are less than his own benefits there will be no reason to wait until 70.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
My thoughts were of they waited to activate theirs while collecting their spouses then theirs would grow until activation. if I am understanding your post you are saying that the activation is forced? What if the surviving spouse makes to much money to activate their own and the deceased benefits were already activated? Does the amount of income made only matter until they reach full retirement age Or does that apply all the way until 70?

I am sorry. My mistake. The restricted option or deming does not apply to survivor benefits.

If he applies for reduced survivor benefits (between 60 and full retirement age) and earns over the allowed limit, his benefits will be further reduced by his earning until his full retirement age. At his full retirement age his benefits will not be limited by his earnings and he can continue collecting survivor benefits until 70 when he can switch to his own higher benefits.

You are not forced to take any benefits, however, if you apply early you generally do not have a choice, you have to take the highest benefits you are eligible for at that time. It is called deemed filing. The deeming does not apply to survivor benefits, which means he can keep survivor benefits until 70 without affecting his own.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
I think I understand but just to be clear. if I am 58 my spouse is 62. We activate their ss now, they die at 66. I can collect their benefits until I turn 70 and then collect mine correct?

Unless the congress makes any changes to social security again, here are your options. Your wife can apply for early reduced benefits at 62 (she will get about 75% of the amount she would get at her full retirement age). It does not matter when she dies, but at the time of her death you will be eligible for survivor benefits (a % of her benefits she will be receiving at the time of her death). Because the deeming provision does not apply to survivor benefits, you can keep surviving benefits until 70 and then switch to your own maximum benefits (including the extra credit).

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Perfect, thank you. if I make 80k a year and she makes 15k. we will be taxed on 85% of our benefits right?

Correct. 85% of her benefits will be included in your taxable income for federal purposes, however in some state the entire 100% may be excluded.

emc011075
emc011075, Tax Adviser
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