Can You Explain This Mess?

Jun 5 2019 - 9:08am

I am in a confused state of mind because of the Social Security personnel. My husband passed away March 21, 2019. He was 75 years old. I am 70. The SS would deposit into our savings acct. each month $2,492.00 (his benefit) and 774.00 (my benefit). On March 20, Social Security deposited these amounts as usual. April 9, I received a letter from SSA stating that my monthly benefit changed to 1,774.80 starting in March, 2019 because of my husband's death. Also, it said that I was entitled to to a SS payment of 225.00 because of his death. Included was stated that SS used 1,896.00 of my benefits to recover part of an overpayment. The same day I received a letter from SSA stating that my monthly benefit would change to 2,628.10 starting March 2019. It said I would receive 2415.00 for April 2019 around May 15, 2019. Also, they would continue to deduct my part B prem. Of 135.00 andmy drug plan cost of 76.00. In April I received my usual 774.00 and no pay for my husband. Since the SSA pays a month ahead I thought nothing of this. In this same letter, it stated that I was overpaid 596.00 on another record. What??? On the last page of this letter, it said that based on the info they now have, they corrected the monthly amount as stated. Months: March 2019., Monthly amounts credited/paid: 985.50. Corrected monthly amounts: 2,626.50. i went to the local SS office in Marshall, and spoke to a Ms. Sparks regarding this. She said her records reflected no overpayment and SSA would correct this. I received April, 774.00 (March): May, 2418.00 (April). Afterwards received a letter dated May 31 stating that in June I would receive $1,819.00 (May) because the amount of 596.00 was deducted. Then said I would receive 2415.00 in July. Then in the next paragraph it stated that I would receive 1,819.00 for June in July. After that I would receive 2,415.00 on or about the third Wednesday of each month. I went back to the local SS office to discuss this and Ms. Sparks once again told me that I did not owe the SS any money and that as soon as this information interfaced (?) it would be straightened out. I just shook my head and left. Would you please explain this mess to me. Thank you so much.. I read your column every week in the Dallas Morning News.


I'm sorry for your loss.

I have no explanation for all of the confusing letters you've received. Your husband's last payment due would be the one he received in March (for February). Then, starting with April (i.e. the payment for March), you would likely be due 100% of your husband's benefit rate. it sounds like that amounts to $2415 after deducting your Medicare premiums. The reason your payment amount is $77 less than the amount that your husband was receiving must be because your Part D premium of $76 is being withheld from your benefits, and the other $1 difference is likely due to dollar down rounding.

You can't be paid both your former Social Security retirement or spousal benefit amount and your full widow's rate, though, just the higher of the two benefits. Since it was too late to stop your former benefit of $774 from being paid in April (for March), Social Security would withhold that amount from your new full benefit rate and pay you an adjusted amount to cover the difference between your former rate and your new rate. They normally also include the $255 one-time death benefit in the adjustment payment.

So to summarize, it sounds like you should have been paid $774 in March (for February), then a total of $2415 per month starting with April (for March), plus a one-time payment of $255. But, since Social Security had already sent your $774 payment in April (for March), they have to pay you a partial payment for the difference between that amount and your new rate. Inclusive of the $255 death benefit, that partial payment would amount to roughly the $1819 referred to in the letters you were sent.

If you don't think that you've received the correct payment amounts, you'll want to continue working with Social Security to get things straightened out.

Best, Jerry