Dad died. Can Mom Get His Higher Social Security Benefit?

Q. My mother is a widow who started collecting her Social Security benefits at age 67. However, my father – her late husband – was already receiving benefits, which were a higher amount than what my mother receives. How can my mother transfer to the higher benefit as a widow?

— Trying to help

A. We are sorry to hear about your father.

When a person’s spouse dies, they may be eligible for higher Social Security benefits.

A surviving spouse of someone who received benefits is eligible for the higher of their benefit or the deceased spouse’s benefit, said Michael Cocco, a certified financial planner at Beacon Wealth Partners in Nutley.

In this case, if you say your father’s benefit was more than what your mother is receiving today based on her own income record, then she should indeed be able to switch to collect your father’s higher benefit, Cocco said.

To do this, she can call the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 or visit a local Social Security office, he said.

“Offices were closed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this spring they reopened to the public and it’s wise to make an appointment so you don’t have to wait long in the waiting room. “What your mom asks is very common, so it should be a relatively simple request to Social Security to help her.”

You can find the nearest location on the Social Security website.

Mail your questions to [email protected].

Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for NJ Advance Media and is the founder of Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. Find NJMoneyHelp on Facebook. Sign up for‘s weekly e-newsletter.

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