Svet: Before he died last year, my father had 38 of the required 40 quarters of work credits needed to qualify for Social Security benefits. Does my mother have a claim to a portion of my father’s partial Social Security entitlement? If not, can she contribute the two “missing” quarters from her work record to receive the appropriate beneficiary benefit for a widow?
Phil Moeller: If your father died after reaching age 62, there is no basis for your mother receiving a survivor benefit, and the rules do not permit another person to contribute credits to his account. If he died at age 60 or younger, she would qualify for benefits because the agency would adjust the hours needed. Thirty-eight quarters of so-called covered earnings would be enough to qualify for someone who died two years before reaching the earliest age at which benefits normally are available.