Q&A: Switching between survivor benefits

Dear Liz: My wife is drawing Social Security survivor benefits. Next year I will start drawing my own Social Security benefits at full retirement age. If I were to die, could she switch over to survivor benefits based on my work history? I know she would get a lot more than what she’s getting now, which is why I’m asking.

Answer: Yes, your wife could switch should you die first. If you can afford to wait a bit longer to apply, you would further increase both your own retirement checks and the survivor benefit she could claim. AARP has a free calculator that can help you see how much larger your benefit could be.

For those who are wondering: Survivor benefits for widows and widowers can continue if they remarry at 60 or later. That’s not the case for divorced spousal benefits, which end if the recipient remarries.

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