How Can I Find Out Which Method Was Used To Calculate My Disabled Widow's Benefit Amount?

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Feb 13 2017 - 7:45am

I have long suspected my disability widow's benefits are lower then what I expect. I recently read about SSA not calculating widow's benefits correctly if the spouse died before age 62. I guess this has accord when SSA did not apply the Windex pia to their calculations. SSA’s systems did not detect when a WINDEX PIA applied for manually processed claims. Not sure how my claim was processed and would like to know how I could go about finding out. if they did or did not apply this benefit to me?

Hi,

When a person dies prior to age 62, Social Security calculates any widow(er)'s benefits payable on their record using 2 different calculation formulas. Whichever method yields the higher benefit rate is then used. The WINDEX, or widow's indexing, method is one of the 2 methods (https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0300615302).

Social Security uses a special code on their beneficiary records to indicate when a WINDEX formula was used to calculate the benefit rate for a widow(er) on the record. If you call or visit a Social Security office, the representative that you speak with should be able to tell you whether or not the WINDEX method was used to calculate your benefit rate. Even if WINDEXing wasn't used to calculate your benefit rate, however, that doesn't mean that it should have been used. It could simply mean that the regular calculation formula yielded a higher rate.

To ease your mind somewhat, if you are receiving only widow's benefits or disabled widow's benefits and not also receiving benefits on your own record, it's extremely unlikely that your benefit rate would have been calculated manually. That said, if you believe that you are entitled to a higher rate, you can submit a written request to Social Security asking them to recalculate your benefit rate.

Best, Jerry