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I don't think there really is anything that can, or should, be done about it, except for trying to plan for that sort of thing in your estate planning so it doesn't come as a surprise. I would definitely that as a "salt in the wound" effect -- to just lose spouse, have Social Security flip your benefits around, and then realize the IRS is going to look at you differently for the first time in 49 years.

Well, the good news for couples with kids nowadays is that by the time they get to the elderly loss of spouse tax effects they will have already been through the loss of kids tax effects, which are much more pronounced nowadays than when I reached adulthood.

You make an excellent point about including the loss of income in planning. I was handling my parents' finances when my mother died, and the drop in monthly income was significant. (Taxes were irrelevant in their case because of the high expenses of home health care.)

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