Skip to content
Social Security Online
Widows, Widowers & Other Survivors
Planners Home SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home

Social Security benefits for the surviving spouse by year of birth

Survivors Planner Home

The earliest a widow or widower can start receiving Social Security survivors benefits based on age will remain at age 60.

If you receive survivors benefits early

As a general rule, early survivors benefits based on your age will give you about the same total Social Security survivors benefits over your lifetime, but in smaller amounts to take into account the longer period you will receive them.

You can receive widows/widowers benefits based on your age at any time between age 60 and your full retirement age as a survivor. However, if you start at an earlier age, your survivors benefits are reduced a fraction of a percent for each month before your full retirement age.

Note: If you start widows/widowers benefits before age 62 and you can switch to retirement benefits when you reach your full retirement age*, your retirement benefit may also be affected.

The chart below lists the full retirement age for survivors based on year of birth. It includes examples of the age 62 survivors benefit based on an estimated monthly benefit of $1000 at full retirement age. Click on your year of birth to find out how much your benefit will be reduced if you begin receiving survivors benefits between age 60 and full retirement age.

Note: If your birthday is on the 1st of the month, we figure the benefit as if your birthday was the previous month.


65 and 2 months
65 and 4 months
65 and 6 months
65 and 8 months
65 and 10 months
66 and 2 months
66 and 4 months
66 and 6 months
66 and 8 months
66 and 10 months
  1. If you were born on January 1st of any year you should refer to the previous year.
  2. The $1000 benefit would be reduced to $715 for anyone who started receiving survivors benefits at age 60. You need to be 60 for the entire month to receive benefits.
  3. Monthly reduction percentages are approximate due to rounding. Survivors benefits that start at age 60 are always reduced by 28.50%.

Pros and Cons

There are disadvantages and advantages to taking your survivors benefit before your full retirement age. The advantage is that you collect benefits for a longer period of time. The disadvantage is that your benefit may be permanently reduced.

Each person's situation is different, so make sure you contact Social Security before you decide to retire.

*Full retirement age may be different for retirement benefits.  

 Link to U.S. Government portal Privacy Policy | Website Policies & Other Important Information | Site Map
Last reviewed or modified Monday Jan 14, 2008
Need Larger Text?