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For those of us who do not lose our spouse before 70, the choice is simple: choose the larger Social Security benefit, yours or your spouse’s.

Social Security benefits for widows and widowers

But for all the talk of extended longevity, 15% of men and 10% of women never reach age 70. Widows, widowers and people born before 1954 are still allowed to file a “restricted application.” For widows and widowers this means that the person can choose to take their spouse’s Social Security benefit while allowing their own to grow and then switch over.

Delayed Social Security benefits strategy

Just as there is a penalty for taking Social Security before full retirement age, there is a benefit to taking it later. For every year that you delay, the amount of your benefit increases 8%. Over a lifetime, that could be a major benefit…depending on how long you live. Ask your CPA or CFP to run the numbers for you.


Elder law attorney, Terry Garrett, CELA, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is an Approved Guardianship Attorney. She assists people in elder law, estate and special needs planning, guardianship and settling estates. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

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