What pays more? Disability or a widow’s pension?

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Q. Is disability typically more than a widow’s pension? I will sign up for a widow’s pension this year, but I’m wondering if I could then apply for disability if it would be more money.

— Still working

A. Lots of people want to maximize their Social Security benefits.

And lots will depend on the earnings records of you and your husband.

If you are at least Social Security retirement age or older, you would receive 100% the basic benefit amount your husband was collecting or your Social Security benefit, whichever is higher, said Jody D’Agostini, a certified financial planner with AXA Advisors/The Falcon Financial Group in Morristown.

“If you are between the ages of 60 and your full retirement age, then the benefit would be anywhere between 71 to 99% of your husband’s basic benefit,” she said.

D’Agostini said the amount of your monthly Social Security disability benefit, or SSDI, depends on your earnings and whether or not Social Security determines you’re eligible.

“It is based on your average lifetime earnings before the date that your disability began,” she said. “Most SSDI recipients collect between $800 and $1,800 a month. The maximum for 2019 was $2,861 a month.”

But you need to speak to Social Security directly to see the actual numbers. You can call (800) 772-1213 or make an appointment at your local office.

Email your questions to .

This story was originally published on Feb. 11, 2020.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.