Rachael came into our office seeking assistance, regarding when to turn on her Social Security check benefits. She was lamenting that her budget was tight, and she needed extra money now to make her retirement budget work, but at age 65 she was hesitant to turn on her Social Security benefit. She knew her monthly check would be less money than if she waited until her full retirement age of 66. “I hate to miss out on income for the rest of my life by turning on my benefit check early,” she bemoaned.

As we reviewed her options, it came to light that her husband had passed away a few years ago. This aspect of the equation gave her additional options.

“Have you thought about activating your widower benefits?” we asked. She was somewhat taken aback as she had no idea that she was eligible for any widow benefits from Social Security.

You can take your widow benefits now and let your personal Social Security benefit grow until later years, then turn on your personal Social Security check at a larger amount in the future. Each year your Social Security check will grow at approximately 8%, and if you wait until age 70 to switch, your personal Social Security benefit will have grown by approximately 24%. That’s 24% more income for the rest of your life.

There are a few qualifications to this scenario:

• Deceased husband needed to have his 40 credits (less if he was younger).

• The surviving spouse must be at 60 or older for reduced benefits, and Full Retirement Age (FRA) for full survivors’ benefits.

• Spouse cannot have remarried to collect widow/widower benefits.

• There is also a one-time death benefit of $255 so long as the spouse was living with the deceased.

Since Racheal was only two months away from turning 66, this scenario would work for her. She was thrilled as it was like finding free money. To find out if this option is available to you as a widower, call us! We can review your personal situation to see if you qualify.