Q: I’m 66 years old and have just gone back to full time work. Will my Social Security go up? Does my deceased former husband’s widow have to pass away in order for me to be able to collect on his Social Security record?
A: With regard to your first question, when your Social Security began, the Social Security Administration determined your initial monthly Social Security benefit on an average of your 35 highest years of earnings. Before selecting the highest years, all of your earnings were indexed to bring them up to date. Your new earnings will increase your benefit if the amount you earn in a year exceeds the earnings in one of the years used in determining your initial benefit.
An automatic recalculation takes place each year whenever new earnings are credited to a retiree’s earnings record. If a year of new earnings exceeds one of the years used previously in determining your initial benefit, monthly benefits increase. Regardless of when this recalculation takes place, the benefit increase is retroactive to the previous January. If new earnings do not increase the lifetime average on which the initial benefit was based, the only increase you will receive is the annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA.
Regarding your second question, you can qualify for surviving divorced spouse’s benefits if your marriage lasted at least 10 years before ending in divorce. The fact that your former husband left a widow has no bearing on your eligibility for a survivor’s benefit.