Q. I made a mistake when applying for Social Security benefits at 62 on my work record believing that I can switch to my husband higher benefits when he reaches 65. Little did I know that I would be stuck with a reduced benefits for life. My question is if my husband dies before me, am I still stuck with this reduced benefit? Will Social Security allow me to switch to my husband's full benefit or only to 80% of his full benefit?
A. A wife receives whichever benefit is the greater amount: her own Social Security retirement benefit or a spouse benefit based on her husband's Social Security earnings record. Each benefit is reduced for months of early retirement. The reduction lasts only until you are widowed.
If you are full retirement age or more before widow benefits begin, your monthly benefit as a widow would be the full amount your husband would receive if still alive. Your early retirement on your own earnings record would no longer matter.