Q. If my wife collects social security at 62, I expect to be already collecting since I’m five years older. As I understand it, since half of my benefit exceeds her benefit, she would collect on her own record plus some additional on my record. Most would be on her record. My question is: If I were to die before her, would her widow’s benefit be reduced because she started collecting at 62 even though most of what she receives is on her record? Would the timing of my death matter (i.e., before or after her full retirement age)?

A. When you wife applies for Social Security benefits to begin, her application will cover both her own benefit and any benefit she is due as a spouse. Each benefit would be reduced for months of early retirement.

The age at which your wife begins a widow benefit will determine her widow benefit amount. If your wife is full retirement age or more before being widowed, her widow benefit will rise to the full benefit you would receive if still alive. If she were less than full retirement age, any widow benefit she is due would be reduced for months she was still less than full retirement age. Whenever her widow benefits begin, her early retirement will no longer be a factor.