By: Paul Solman and Laurence Kotlikoff
Posted: Sept. 3rd. 2012
Larry Kotlikoff’s Social Security “secrets” and his answers to your questions (Answers to Benign and Scary Social Security Questions, Social Security Confusion: Our Expert Dispels Some More and 11 Social Security Mistakes People Make) have prompted so many of you to write in that we decided to inaugurate a regular feature here on Making Sen$e — “Ask Larry.” You can read last week’s installment here. We are determined to continue it until the queries stop or we run through the particular problems of all 78 million Baby Boomers, whichever comes first. We run “Ask Larry” on Mondays, where he takes my seat as the sage of the day. Unlike my answers, his are short and sweet (or, for some emailers, bitter) and so he takes on half-a-dozen questions or so, instead of just one.
Mary Ann Gillie: I am almost 59 and am receiving a widow’s pension and disability. Is there another way to get more benefits because I cannot work?
Larry Kotlikoff: I presume your widow’s pension is from your husband’s former employment. If your husband paid Social Security taxes at his work, you should be able to collect a reduced widow’s benefit from Social Security starting at age 62. You should think twice about doing this, however, since it will be permanently reduced by about 30 percent compared to the value it would have starting at your full retirement age, which is age 66. You may want to take your own reduced retirement benefits starting at 62 and then apply for your unreduced survivor benefit at 66. Or it may be better to take your survivor benefit starting at 66 and your highest possible retirement benefit starting at 70.
Read More: PBS.org