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Kathy posed this week’s question.
I’d like to ask you a question about widows’ benefits.My 37-year-old husband died recently at the age of 92.At the age of 62, he had retired and applied for Social Security benefits.I am 68 years old and receive a pension that is less than his.I’m curious as to what percentage of his benefits I’m entitled to.I called Social Security for information and was told I couldn’t get a phone appointment for almost two months. Would it be equivalent to his current amount or a percentage of what his benefit would have been if he had retired at full retirement age?
The impact of the RIB LIM rule on benefits
First and foremost, Kathy, I understand your dissatisfaction with the long wait for a phone appointment with a Social Security representative.Many local offices are simply understaffed, resulting in long waits for information or benefits applications.Unfortunately, I do not see this problematic situation improving anytime soon.Getting professional assistance can often help you avoid these delays.
Let us now turn our attention to your question about widows’ benefits.You stated that your benefits were lower than those of your deceased husband.Your widows benefit, with one exception, would be equal to the amount your deceased husband was receiving.As a result, you should immediately switch from your own benefits to widows benefits.
You can receive benefits retroactively for up to six months or until the month your husband died, whichever is shorter.
The above-mentioned exception is known as the RIB LIM rule.It establishes an 82-year-old widow’s benefit ceiling.5% of the primary insurance amount (PIA) of the deceased spouse, where the PIA is the benefit at full retirement age.
Given his age, your late husband’s full retirement age (FRA) was 65.So, by claiming benefits at the age of 62, he was getting 80% of his PIA.As a result, you are subject to the RIB LIM rule.Your widow’s benefit will be $82 per month.PIA is 5% of your husband’s PIA.For instance, if your husband’s monthly benefit is $800, his PIA is $1,000.As a result, your monthly widows benefit would be $825.
The RIB LIM rule, in particular, is more important for those with FRAs greater than 65.The FRA of the majority of new Social Security claimants is currently 66.If they claim at the age of 62, they will receive 75% of their PIA.For those born in 1960 or later, the FRA is 67, so claiming at 62 will get them 70% of their PIA.Clearly, the 82nd percentileAs the FRA rises, early claiming penalties increase, a 5% floor for widows benefits becomes much more relevant.
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The questions I’m most likely to respond to are those that will pique the interest of other readers.As a result, it’s best not to ask for super-specific advice that only applies to you.
I earned my doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin and spent many years teaching economics at the University of Delaware.I co-founded SocialSecurityChoices in 2009.com is a website that offers guidance on Social Security claim decisions.You can find out more about it by going here.
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