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Amount of Widow(er)'s Insurance Benefit

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at


407. Amount of Widow(er)'s Insurance Benefit

407.1 How is the widow(er)'s benefit rate computed?

The widow(er)'s insurance benefit rate equals 100 percent of the deceased worker's primary insurance amount plus any additional amount the deceased worker was entitled to because of delayed retirement credits. (See §720.)

407.2 When is the benefit rate less?

Your widow(er)'s insurance benefit payable may be less than what was computed above if any of the conditions below apply:

  1. A reduction is necessary because the "family maximum" applies (this reduction is discussed in §§731-732);

  2. You are also entitled to a smaller retirement insurance or disability insurance benefit (only the difference between the larger widow(er)'s insurance benefit and the other benefit is payable as the widow(er)'s insurance benefit; however, this amount is payable in addition to the other benefit);

  3. You are entitled for months before the month you reach retirement age. See §§723-725 for an explanation of how the reduced rate is computed;

  4. You choose to receive and are paid a reduced widow(er)'s benefit for months before you reach retirement age. A reduced benefit rate is payable for as long as you are entitled to widow(er)'s benefits. For a possible adjustment at age 62 and retirement age, see §728;

    Note: Entitlement to this reduced rate may result in a reduction in any disability or retirement insurance benefit to which you may later become entitled.

  5. You are caring for your deceased spouse's child and:

    1. The child is under age 16 or disabled;

    2. The child is entitled to child's insurance benefits; and

    3. You have not reached retirement age. In this case, your widow(er)'s benefits are not reduced for those months below 75 percent of the deceased spouse's primary insurance amount; or

  6. The deceased worker was entitled to a reduced retirement benefit for the month before the month he or she died.

Last Revised: March, 2001

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