Question: My father recently passed, after which my mother — who is 69 — started receiving a Social Security survivor benefit amount that was higher than her previous benefit, but not nearly as much as my father’s. A friend told her that she is entitled to her husband’s full benefit. Is that true? Could she claim my father’s benefit instead of the one she is receiving? Are there other options? I am not sure how old my father was when he started taking his Social Security benefit.

Ric: My condolences to you for your loss.

You’re allowed to start receiving Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62, but you get less per month than if you wait until your Full Retirement Age (FRA), which is around age 66 for most people these days.

Your mom is beyond her FRA, so she is entitled to 100% of what her husband was receiving. You and your mom should visit a local Social Security office and sort this out. The staff there can tell you exactly how much your mom is entitled to — and it might be more than what she started receiving after your father died. The situation won’t get worse, and it might get better — so you have nothing to lose.

Let me add one more nifty little point; I'm not sure how you'll react to it. Because your mom is 69, she can remarry and keep getting that survivor benefit. You can decide if you want to tell her it’s OK (as far as Social Security is concerned) for her to get married again.