Should My Mom Be Receiving Widow's Benefits?

Category: 
Dec 24 2016 - 10:15am

My Mom is 95, we think she is receiving social security under her own work record.
Her husband died in 2000, and always made more money then her. Should she be getting social security under his record? and would it be more money?
As she is 100% bedridden, and any extra money would be used to make her more comfortable in her final days. would we be able, as her children to help her with this?

Hi,

I'm sorry to hear about your mother's health problems.

It sounds like she should be receiving the higher of her own benefit rate, or her deceased husband's full benefit rate. If she's entitled to any benefit on her own record, Social Security would pay that benefit, plus an excess widow's benefit equal to the difference in their benefit rates. That is, assuming that his benefit rate was higher than hers.

Unfortunately, it's hard to tell what type of benefit(s) she is actually receiving without having her Social Security award letters. And, Social Security can't give you the information without her authorization due to the privacy act. Assuming that your mother is mentally competent, Social Security can release information from her records to you if your mother signs a release form. The preferred form to use for that purpose is an SSA-3288 (https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-3288.pdf), which you can complete for her provided that she signs and dates the form. Social Security may also want to call her to verify that the signature is hers. Be sure to specify on the form that you are trying to determine whether or not she is already receiving widow's benefits on her deceased husband's record, as well as any other information you wish to know. You will likely need to furnish his Social Security number in order for them to locate his records.

If she can't sign the form or is mentally incompetent, you could be appointed as a representative payee to handle her Social Security affairs. That would involve filing an application with Social Security, who would then contact your mother's doctor to verify that she is not capable of handling her own affairs.

Best, Jerry