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Dear Liz, My wife started collecting Social Security at her full retirement age six years ago. I am waiting to file to receive my maximum Social Security payment at 70 in 2025. If I file today, my current benefit would be significantly higher than hers, and even more if I wait. If I predecease him without filing before I reach my maximum benefit at age 70, what are his options for survivor benefits? Will his new benefit amount be based on my date of death or my full retirement age, or can he delay applying until I turn 70 in 2025?

Answer: Your wife will receive a survivor benefit equal to what you earned on the date of your death, including deferred pension credits. He wouldn’t increase his survivor benefit by deferring until 2025 if you die before then. On the other hand, he would also not be subject to the early start benefit reduction because he has already reached his full retirement age.

You’re making a smart move by deferring because you’re maximizing both your own benefit and the single Social Security check that one of you will receive after the other dies. But you don’t have to be married to benefit from the delay. A new study by economists at Boston University and the Federal Reserve found that nearly all American workers between the ages of 45 and 62 will have to wait until age 65 to start Social Security, and more than 90% will have to wait until age 70.

Liz Weston, a certified financial planner, is a personal finance columnist NerdWallet. Questions can be sent to him at 3940 Laurel Canyon, No. 238, Studio City, CA 91604, or using the Contact form at:


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