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The So-Called 'New' Social Security Rules Are Actually the Old Rules There is just so darn much misinformation out there about new Social Security rules. These rules have to do with the eventual elimination of the maximizing strategies known as "file and restrict" and "file and suspend." Every single day, I get …Read more. How to Deal With the Social Security Earnings Penalties I've gotten more than a few emails recently from Social Security beneficiaries who are under age 66 and still working and who are trapped in the web of Social Security's convoluted earnings penalty rules and the way they are administered. Those …Read more. Long Gone Husband May Mean Extra Social Security to Some I gave a couple women very nice Christmas presents over the recent holiday season. And I'm not talking about the lingerie I got my wife or the coffee maker I got my daughter. I'm talking about the gift of extra Social Security benefits I got for two …Read more. The Lights Are Still Shining Brightly at SSA About a month ago, I wrote a column about possible declining service at the Social Security Administration. I pointed out that I get frequent emails from readers who complain about overflowing waiting rooms, generally unpleasant surroundings, and …Read more.
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Widower Will First Receive Own Social Security Benefit


Q: I know Social Security pays benefits to widows. But how about widowers? If my wife dies, will I receive any monthly allotment on her Social Security account?

A: Only if her Social Security retirement benefit exceeds yours. Or to put it another way, only if your wife made more money than you did, thus making you partially dependent on her income.

As in all cases, the government will pay your own Social Security retirement benefit first. Then it will look to see if that benefit can be augmented with anything you might be due as a dependent on your wife's account. For example, let's say you get $1,500 per month from Social Security and your wife gets $2,000 per month. If she dies, you'll continue to receive your $1,500 benefit, but you will get a supplemental $500 monthly widower's payment on your wife's Social Security record.

Even if you don't qualify for monthly widower's benefits, you will be paid the miserly $255 death benefit that the government pays to most surviving spouses. And don't get me going on the stinginess of that particular Social Security handout.

Q: I am 65 years old. My husband is 69. Could I file for wife's benefits on my husband's Social Security record at 66, and then switch to my own Social Security at age 69 or 70? I understand I would get higher Social Security benefits if I do that.

A: The normal Social Security rule says that if you file for spousal benefits, you must file for your own retirement benefits at the same time.

But there is an exception to that rule for people who are over their "full retirement age." (That's age 66 for most people.) So, if you wait until age 66, and assuming that for the next several years you will be able to get by on one-half of your husband's Social Security benefits — the rate you'd be due filing as a wife on your husband's record — then you can do as you plan.

And when you switch to your own retirement benefit, it will be augmented with a "delayed retirement bonus," to the tune of 8 percent per year.

You should go over the numbers with the folks at your local Social Security office to determine the optimum time to make the switch from wife's benefits to your own retirement benefits.

Q: I am about to turn 65 and will go on Medicare. My wife is only 63. She has never worked, so she has earned no Social Security or Medicare coverage on her own record. She is severely disabled. Is there any way she can get Medicare on my record when I turn 65?

A: I'm afraid not. The only people who can receive Medicare before age 65 are those who qualify for Social Security disability benefits. But your wife isn't eligible for those benefits because she never worked or paid Social Security taxes.

Because she is over age 62, she will be eligible for monthly cash benefits as a wife on your Social Security record. And she eventually will get Medicare coverage on your record, but not until she turns 65.

There is a slight chance she might be eligible for Medicaid. That's the welfare version of Medicare; it is available to disabled people under age 65. But in most states, to get Medicaid you must qualify for Supplemental Security Income payments. And your combined income and assets would have to be quite low to receive SSI. (I can't tell you how low because the rules vary from state to state.) Contact your local Social Security office to find out if your wife qualifies for SSI and the corresponding Medicaid coverage.

To find out more about Tom Margenau and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



5 Comments | Post Comment
Im 62 and planniong to take social security now instead of waiting tell im 66. My wife is 7 years younger than me and has worked as an RN for the past 25 years. My question when my wife starts to draw social security can i go over to hers since hers would be the higher of the two. Thank You
Comment: #1
Posted by: Roger Young
Tue Aug 9, 2011 7:15 AM
my husband is on disability and has a few medical issues, If he dies will I recieve his disability. I am 47 years old soon to be 48.
Comment: #2
Posted by: melanie r
Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:07 PM
I'm 57 and just found to have terminal cancer. I have a wife and a 16 year old son. If I die here soon is my wife and son be ellegable to receive my social security benefits right after my death?
Comment: #3
Posted by: Rick Garris
Thu May 8, 2014 12:54 PM
Can get m5 wife's ssi whe has passed away at this time iam receivihg ssdi am I still in titled to her benifit
Comment: #4
Posted by: Paul Guillen
Tue Sep 9, 2014 6:20 PM
I will be 62 in July of 2016 and thinking about going ahead and retiring then and not waiting till I'm wife died of cancer in 2000. At that time all of the social security that she had payed in through the years went back to the government...And yes I did get the 255.00 for funeral assistance wich I wont say to much about except that really was wrong after we had worked so hard making a life together and paying in all that social security through the years and they take it back..Now that I am thinking about retiring am I eligible to receive any part of the social security she payed in all of those years or do I get scammed again even though I was tp;d I could when I decided to I just wasting my time applying for this or not.....another thing that was unfair and yes I did voice my opinion about it was social security made her wait 6 months before any disability could be payed to her...doctors gave her 3 months to live...she was terminal and they did that to I wasting my time asking for this benefit...
Comment: #5
Posted by: jerry gray
Sat Dec 12, 2015 10:09 PM
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