Senior Living


Health & Spirit

Social Security and You: Observant Reader Notices Fluke in COLA Payments

Tom Margenau on

A: I think you are worrying way too much about this. There is really nothing special about starting your benefits exactly at age 66. If they start the following month, it is no big deal. In fact, there is a small advantage to starting your benefits one month later. You will get a two-thirds of 1 percent "delayed retirement credit" added to your ongoing monthly benefits.

So if I were you, I wouldn't try to change anything. But if this is really bothering you, your only recourse would be to withdraw the claim you already filed and then file a whole new claim stating you want your benefits to begin in January.

Q: I am thinking of taking my Social Security benefits when I turn 65 this July. I understand I will get reduced benefits. I am married to a younger man. He is only 58 and makes substantially more money that I do. But sadly, he has cancer and has been told he has 12 to 24 months to live. If he were to die, would I be messing up my potential widow's benefits by taking my own benefits early?

A: Not really. Essentially, your widow's benefit will be based on one thing only: your age when you start getting those benefits. If you are 66 or older when he dies, you will get your own benefit supplemented up to 100 percent of his full retirement rate. If he dies before you reach age 66, you will have a choice. You can either switch to a reduced widow's benefit right away. (The reduction would be about one half of 1 percent for each month you are under age 66.) Or you could continue to collect your reduced retirement check until age 66, when you could switch to a 100 percent widow's benefit.

Q: If I delay my widow's benefits until age 70, do I get the same 32 percent bonus added to my check as a retiree does who waits that long to file?

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A: No. That delayed retirement credit only applies to retirees. So there would be no advantage to delaying starting your widow's benefits beyond age 66.


If you have a Social Security question, Tom Margenau has the answer. Contact him at To find out more about Tom Margenau and to read past columns and see features from other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



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