Advanced Underwriting Consultants

Ask the Experts – May 6

Ask the Experts!

The professionals at Advanced Underwriting Consultants (AUC) answer the tax and technical questions posed by producers.  Here’s the question of the day.

Question: My client is a widow who is about to turn 60 years old. Her deceased husband died prior to filing for his own benefits. When can she file for widow benefits, and will they be reduced if she files before she reaches her full retirement age?

Answer: A widow (or widower) can begin receiving survivors benefits as early as age 60, but she will receive reduced benefits if she files before her full retirement age (FRA).

If the widow files for survivors benefits at age 60, those benefits will be reduced by 28.5%. The benefit reduces linearly with each month she files early, so assuming her full retirement age is 66 years, for each month she files for widow’s benefits early, her benefits are reduced by about 0.396% (28.5% divided by 72 months).

Let’s say her husband had neither filed for his own retirement benefits nor reached FRA at the time of his death. The maximum widow benefit she can receive at her own FRA is equal to her deceased husband’s primary insurance amount (PIA). If his PIA was $2,400, and if she filed for benefits at age 60, she would receive a reduced monthly benefit of $1,716 ($2,400, his PIA, reduced by 28.5%). Alternatively, if she waited until age 64, her monthly benefit would be reduced to $2,172 ($2,400 reduced by 9.5%).

Have a question for the professionals at AUC?  Feel welcome to submit it by email.  We may post your question and the answer as the question of the day.