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Top 25 Social Security Questions

Confused about when to claim or whether you're eligible for benefits? We have answers

16. My husband died recently. Can I choose between my own benefit and that as a widow? Can I collect both?

Eligibility for a widow's benefit begins at age 60, or 50 if you are disabled. If you are full retirement age, your survivor benefit will be 100 percent of his benefit; if you take it early, the amount will be reduced. You can switch to your own benefit as early as 62. In any event, you can only get one benefit, whichever is higher.

17. I began drawing Social Security at age 62 in 2006, but I'm still working. Since I'm still paying Social Security taxes, will my benefits increase?

If your latest work years are among your highest-earning years, the SSA refigures your benefit and pays you any increase due. This is automatic, with new benefits starting in December of the following year.

18. My wife is 62 and collects Social Security based on her own work record. Can she receive spousal benefits based on my record when I retire in a few years?

If she is eligible for both benefits, yours and hers, Social Security will pay her own benefits first. If she is due additional benefits, she will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spousal benefit.

19. Why would changes in Social Security be considered as a way to help balance the federal budget?

Some policymakers say all spending, including Social Security, should be cut. Social Security has not contributed to the deficit. In fact, the trust fund is projected to reach $4.3 trillion by 2023. AARP believes that Social Security benefits should not be targeted to reduce the deficit.

20. If I retire to a foreign country, can I have my Social Security benefits sent there?

If you are a U.S. citizen, you may receive your benefits in most foreign countries, usually by check or direct deposit. If you are not a U.S. citizen, the answer is more complicated, with certain rules applying to certain countries. For specifics, see the Social Security publication "Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States."

Next: Can you collect Social Security and unemployment? >>

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