Social Security survivor benefits for disabled claimants

Diane – Florida: My husband died in 1998 at the age of 50. I am disabled, and when I turned 50, I began receiving survivor benefits. I was only receiving about 72 percent of what he would have gotten. When I turned 66, my disability benefit was converted to a regular survivor benefit but I did not receive any more money. Shouldn’t I now be getting 100 percent of what my late husband would have been getting?

Phil Moeller: Survivor benefits reach their maximum if the claimant waits to file until they have reached their full retirement age. You filed much earlier, of course, so your benefit was reduced. This may seem unfair, and I generally hammer Social Security for its benefit rules. But your benefit at 50 was much increased due to your disability, and 72 percent is not a bad deal given that you’ve been getting benefits for nearly 20 years.