If you are a widow or widower, you can draw Social Security from your deceased spouse or former spouse. At 60 the payments will be reduced compared with what you would receive at your full retirement age (FRA), and there are limits on the income you can earn at your work. If you have your own Social Security work record, taking a widow’s payment early can be part of an early retirement strategy.
Your first eligibility for Social Security retirement income is at age 62. The payment amount will be reduced compared with what you would earn at your full retirement age and there are limits on your earned income. Claiming benefits can make sense if you need the income and it can be part of an early retirement strategy. Note that while you are under full retirement age, you might experience a reduction in your Social Security payment depending on your earned income.
Everyone turning 65 should consider contacting the Social Security Administration to ask about signing up for Medicare. You must get this right—you can be penalized for filing for Medicare too late or too early. Call or visit Social Security 2 or 3 months before your birth month. (See our information on Understanding Medicare or attend one of our workshops to learn more about Medicare.)
For many, this is your Social Security “full retirement age.” You can continue to work and draw Social Security at the same time, with no Social Security penalty, starting with your birthday month. In the months before your birthday month, you still have earned income limits. You might also take spouse-only payments and hold your own payments in reserve. It’s called the “Restricted Application” strategy.
Your Social Security benefits will typically not grow higher if you wait past 70 to claim your benefit. Take your Social Security this year if you haven’t already. And if you were getting spouse-only payments, it’s time to possibly switch to your own Social Security benefit.
As always, be sure to check with the Social Security Administration for details if any of these options affect you.