3. Suppose you drop dead before you start collecting your retirement benefit and before you reach full retirement age. Further assume that you have a low-earning spouse. She/he will be able to collect a survivor benefit equal to your full retirement benefit.
But suppose you started receiving your retirement benefit right before you died. In this case, there’s a gotcha for your surviving spouse. Her/his widow’s benefit will be permanently reduced because it will equal your retirement benefit with the early retirement benefit reduction applied. To make matters worse, if your spouse takes the widow’s/widower’s benefit early, she/he will get hit by the survivor’s benefit reduction fact. Together, these two reductions could reduce your spouse’s widow/widower’s benefit by as much as 47.5 percent.
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