Q. I am 59 years old and 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 drawing retirement from a state pension. Will that make a difference?
A. When you reach full retirement age, your Social Security benefit will continue uninterrupted. The only change 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. The amount of your benefit is unaffected by this change.
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 is payable depends on the amount of her own 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 public employment. An issue brief discussing the Government Pension Offset can be found at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10007.html .