Working Wife's Survivor Social Security Benefits

Working wives can be any age and receive survivors benefits if they're caring for minor children.

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Wives of deceased husbands who qualified for Social Security benefits are able to receive monthly payments while maintaining employment. To receive survivors benefits, wives must meet the eligibility guidelines set by the Social Security Administration. Several factors determine the amount of benefits wives receive, including age and health status. Having jobs, however, could reduce the amount of survivor benefits they receive and cause them to become taxable compensation.

Survivor Benefit Amounts

Survivor benefits are based on how much a husband was eligible for. Working wives receive up to 100 percent of his benefit amount or as little as 71.5 percent. To receive full benefits, working wives must reach full retirement age, which ranges from 65 to 67 depending on their year of birth. Payments of 71.5 percent to 99 percent are awarded to wives between age 60 and full retirement age, and 71.5 percent to women who are between 50 and 59 and disabled. If working wives are caring for his minor children, they would receive 75 percent.

Earnings Limit

The Social Security Administration sets an earnings guideline that reduces the amount of survivor benefits once working wives exceed the income limit. As of 2012, survivor benefits are reduced by $1 for every $2 earned over $14,640 before reaching retirement age. At retirement age, benefits are reduced by $1 for every $3 earned over $38,880.


The type of job wives have can reduce their survivors benefits. If their employment is not covered under Social Security, such as a civil service or other government job, or they work in foreign countries, the Social Security Administration offsets survivors benefits by two-thirds of any pensions they are entitled to. For example, if their pensions are $900 per month, their survivors benefits are reduced by $600.

Taxable Compensation

Social Security survivors benefits can be nontaxable if they are the sole income of recipients. However, with their additional incomes from working, wives benefits are subject to taxes if the combination surpasses the program's limits. As of 2012, working wives whose combined incomes are more than $25,000 per year have 50 percent of their benefits taxed at normal income tax rates and up to 85 percent if their income tops $34,000.