Q. My father-in-law is 77. He receives Social Security benefits and plans to marry. His intended receives her deceased husband’s benefits. Do they lose either benefit after marriage?

A. If your father-in-law and his fiancée choose to marry, there will be no change whatsoever in either of their Social Security benefits. Marriage or remarriage never affects a worker’s own Social Security benefit. Marriage after age 60 (50, if disabled) never affects a widow’s or widower’s right to a survivor benefit based on a prior marriage.


Q. I started taking Social Security in February of this year and now realize it may not have been the best decision. Once Social Security monthly benefits are started is there any way for me to change my mind and delay receiving benefits and, if so, what do I need to do to accomplish that?

A. Since it is less than a year since you began benefits, you are entitled to withdraw your original application for benefits. To exercise that option you must repay the benefits received thus far. When you again want to receive benefits, you would submit a new application.


Q. I turned 65 and my Social Security check was reduced $105 for Medicare coverage. Will my next COLA increase be based on the amount of money I was receiving prior to the Medicare reduction or the amount after the reduction?

A. Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs) are based on the full Social Security monthly entitlement before the Medicare premium is withheld.


Q. I am still working full time and have not yet applied for Social Security. I would like to know how my continued employment will affect my Social Security benefits. By how much will my benefit be increased for each year I work beyond my full retirement age of 66?

A. First, for each year after your full retirement age that you defer receiving Social Security and up to age 70, your benefit will increase by eight percent. For example, if you wait until you reach age 70 to start Social Security, your monthly benefit would be 32 percent higher than if you had started receiving benefits at age 66. Your benefit also might be higher when your wages for years after age 66 are added to your Social Security earnings record. When you apply for benefits, the Social Security Administration will calculate your initial monthly Social Security benefit based on your highest 35 years of earnings. If your earnings in any of the years you work after age 66 is high enough, these new earnings may increase your benefit as well.


Q. I turned 65 and my Social Security check was reduced $105 for Medicare coverage. Will my next COLA increase be based on the amount of money I was receiving prior to the Medicare reduction or the amount after the reduction?

A. Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs) are based on the full Social Security monthly benefit before the Medicare premium is withheld.


Q. I am 59 years old and I have been on Social Security Disability and Medicare for 12 years. What will happen to my payment when I reach full retirement age? Also, when I die, will my wife be entitled to my benefits? She is 56 and is receiving a pension from the state. Will that make a difference?

A. When you reach full retirement age, your Social Security benefit will continue uninterrupted. The only difference will be an in-house bookkeeping change at Social Security Administration headquarters. Disability Insurance benefits are paid from the Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund; retirement benefits are paid from the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund. At age 65 your wife will be entitled to Medicare based on your Social Security earnings record. She will be eligible for a spouse benefit as early as age 62, but whether any spouse benefit will be payable depends on the amount of her own public pension. Your wife’s right to a spousal benefit is subject to the Government Pension Offset provision of Social Security law. This provision requires the reduction or offset of any Social Security spouse or widow benefit otherwise payable by two-thirds of any pension earned from non-Social Security covered government employment. An issue brief discussing the Government Pension Offset can be found on the Social Security website. The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare has long supported repeal of unfair Social Security offset provisions or, at a bare minimum, relief from their most serious inequities. For more information, read our piece on government pension offset and windfall elimination provisions.


Q. Hi, I am a widow. Can I receive my own Social Security benefit before full retirement age (FRA) and then switch to my late husband’s benefit at FRA and receive his full benefit?

A. The answer to each of your questions is yes. As a widow, you have the choice of which benefit to begin first — your own Social Security benefit or your widow benefit. You may switch from one to the other when it most advantageous for you to do so.

Before applying for benefits, you will want to contact the Social Security Administration and obtain up-to-date estimates of the benefits payable on your own and on your deceased husband’s earnings record. Ask for estimates at age 60, 62, full retirement age and age 70. That information will help you make the decision that is in your long-term best interest.

If you are in the work force, you may begin benefits while continuing to work, but Social Security beneficiaries who are less than full retirement age are subject to an annual earnings limitation. For 2019 the limitation will increase to $17,640. The Social Security Administration must withhold $1 in benefits for each $2 of excess earnings.