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Widow benefits - effective date with income before that.


Widow benefits - effective date with income before that.

Hello, before I call SS directly, was hoping someone here has some input.  My husband died suddenly 9 months ago at 49, I'm 40 with 2 girls, ages 12 and 6.  They are getting survivor benefits monthly and I'm entitled to receive widow benefits while they are minors.  I currently work as a nurse and would normally make well over the $18,000 income limit, so not eligible to receive the benefits.


At this point, I can no longer keep my N-ICU nursing job, as I will not have help with caring for my girls (my mom has been living with us helping out since my husband's death, but she and my dad live 1000 miles away and she cannot stay here forever).  We would like to move to be close to them, which means I have to give up my job.  They also have other commitments/work that they have put on hold the last year until we can get settled, so I can't count on them to always be available, even if we live closer.


SS had told me when he died that I would qualify for benefits if I'm not working, but my main question is would the income I am receiving so far in 2021 be counted against me if I start taking benefits, for example, starting in June?  Or does the income limit become effective the date I start rec'g benefits?  If my current income is counted against me, I would have to quit my job by end of March to not go over  the $18,000 limit.   Once I am settled, I would like to get a per diem job in the same field that allows me to control how much I work to stay under the income limit, and allow me to be available for my girls and their activities.   But that would only work if the income before rec'g benefits is not counted against me.


Physically, my doctor has told me I can no longer work  full-time anyway at a physically demanding due job to a degenerative spine, but it's not enough to qualify me for disability at my age.


Would appreciate any info, input or prior experience someone else may have had.  Thank you.

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Honored Social Butterfly


You asked:

1.  my main question is would the income I am receiving so far in 2021 be counted against me if I start taking benefits,

2.  Or does the income limit become effective the date I start rec'g benefits? 


Social Security is a confusing program - and this part (Earnings Limit for those LESS than full retirement age), which is the category that you are within, is even more complicated.  I am gonna give you a link to a Social Security pamphlet - HOW WORK AFFECTS YOUR BENEFIT. 


Read it all because it does answer your questions, then you can come back here if you need to ask more questions.  This is also the 2021 version of the pamphlet; updated with the new 2021 earnings limits - The annual OR the MONTHLY.  It also gives some examples of how the deductions from your benefit work because of the earnings limit (annual or monthly).


As you read it - remember your category:  You will be a survivor - or RETIRED YOUNGER than Full Retirement age.  This pamphlet is pretty complete in its explanation of your questions.



  • Pay special attention to Page 1:  If you’re younger than full retirement age during all of 2021, we must deduct $1 from your benefits for each $2 you earn above $18,960 - but see page 5 * (below for monthly income limit)


  • Pay special attention to Page 4:   WHAT INCOME COUNTS . . . AND WHEN IT IS COUNTED.


  • * Pay special attention to Page 4 - 5:  SPECIAL RULE FOR THE FIRST YEAR YOU RETIRE  In 2021, a person younger than full retirement age for the entire year is considered retired if monthly earnings are $1,580 or less.

I am also giving you some other links just for a recap of the Survivors Benefit.



I don't know if this will affect your benefit but thought I would also link it here too:

Social - Formula for Family Maximum Benefit 



It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Thank you!  That does help.  I also did get to talk to a SS rep this a.m., and she confirmed that my income prior to the effective date of benefits does NOT count against me, only what is earned after that point.

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Honored Social Butterfly


Yep, that is covered in the pamphlet under Special Rule for the First Year You Retire- page 4. 


Just keep this pamphlet handy just in case you decide to get some sort of a part-time job or some income earnings in that 1st year - 2021.

I am sure you will be on a budget but the kids need you - and sometimes you just have to do what is necessary. 

I probably don't need to say it but remember the kids benefits will stop at different times and before you reach Full Retirement Age or later (currently maximum to age 70) - you earn delayed retirement benefit on YOUR own benefits between your FRA and 70 years old - currently 8% a year.  So at FRA check what your benefits will be then and also check how much they will be at 70.


One other thing just to keep in the back of your mind as a heads up - you are so young and there are gonna have to be some types of changes to SS because of the programs finances - so just pay attention to changes which Congress may make - might not affect you but I can't guarantee that cause you are so young and your own benefits are still there to be considered.  Plus you just don't know how life will change between now and later, life moves on - like marrying again.


I know losing your husband was tough - My brother died at 40 and his family situation was similar to yours.  His wife kept working and it was a lot with (2) young  kid.  I wish you well - Good Luck and I wish you and the kids a wonderful life.

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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