Many baby-boomers are nearing retirement age and are faced with difficult decisions regarding whether or not to claim their social security benefits before they reach full retirement age. In many cases, they have health problems and disabilities that increasingly limit their ability to work. In some cases working itself creates a substantial risk to their health. Because of these difficulties, many turn to social security early.
However, when making this decision it is important that widows carefully consider their options. A recent audit of social security highlights why this is so important. CBS News reports that Social Security failed to notify widows who were applying for their own social security retirement that they had the option to delay taking their retirement and only claiming the survivor benefits they are eligible for as a widow.
Why is it so important to delay taking your retirement?
If you claim your social security retirement early (between 62 and 65), you will be penalized up to 30% of your monthly benefit. So for example, if you were eligible for $2000 per month in retirement at the age of 65, your benefit could be reduced as low as $1600 per month by taking it early. Furthermore, between the age of 65 and 70, your benefit increases by 8% each year you delay claiming it. For example, if you were eligible for $2000 at 65 you could be eligible for well over $2500 if you delay claiming your benefits by only a few years.
What other options do widows have?
Widows have two fantastic options to prevent them from being penalized before the age of 65. First, widows are often eligible for a survivor benefit. They can often take this benefit before the age of 65 without any penalty. By doing so they allow their regular retirement to grow while they manage with the survivor benefits. Widows also have the option of applying for disability benefits, which will also effectively remove the penalty of claiming their own retirement early.
What should I do?
After reading the CBS article, it should be clear that you should be very cautious to rely on Social Security to protect your interests. We recommend you verify any information given to you by a social security employee. Also, if you are between the age of 50 and 65 and a widow it is helpful to speak to an experienced disability lawyer who can carefully review your situation and help you understand what options you have within Social Security. Social Security Disability regulations are very complex with respect to widow’s benefits, you need to speak to an attorney with experience practicing disability law. If you have additional questions we offer free in-person consultations with experienced San Antonio disability lawyers.
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