Can You Help Me Understand How My Mother's Benefits Were Calculated?

Category: 
Apr 19 2018 - 9:50am

My father passed away in February at age 61, my mother is 60 and on disability I used the online calculator on ssa.gov and input my fathers earning record. Calculated that at full retirement age my mothers survivors benefit would be $1813.00 receive benefits at age 50 if disabled . the ssa website says she is eligble for 71.5% =$1296.00 My mother had been receiving $992. and they were deducting 20.80 for Medicare prescription drug cost as of January 2018=$971, today we received papers from ssa stating that beginning Dec 2017 her full monthly benefits before deductions is $1144.00 -$131.00 for medical insurance premiums and her regular monthly payment is $1013.00 it goes on to state that her past benefits from Dec 2016 to Nov 2017 her full benefit was $1121.00 deduct $108.00 for medical so her payment was $1013. ?? the paper goes on to state that beginning Feb 2018 (the month my father passed away her full monthly benefit is $159.00 can you please help me to understand how these numbers were calculated? thank you for your help

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

If your mother has been receiving Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) and becomes eligible for widow's benefits at age 60, her widow's rate would be determined by subtracting her full SSDI rate before deductions from your father's primary insurance amount (PIA) and then reducing that difference by 28.5%.

For example, say John dies and has a PIA of $1800. John's wife Jill is drawing SSDI and her full SSDI rate is $1100. If Jill starts drawing reduced widow's benefits at age 60 her widow's rate would then be 71.5% of the difference in the above amounts, or roughly $500 (i.e. ($1800 - $1100) * .715). This would then be paid in addition to Jill's SSDI to give her a combined rate of $1600 before deductions.

The only reasons I can think of to explain why your mother's rate isn't higher is if your father's PIA isn't as high as what you mentioned, or if your mother has additional deductions from her benefits such as tax withholding. It sounds like your mother might want check with Social Security to see if they can more fully explain her benefit rates. I would suggest trying to contact the claims representative that handled her claim for widow's benefits. The representative should have given her a receipt for her claim with his or her name and contact information.

The other alternative would be to file a formal appeal (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10041.pdf), but you should probably try to make sure that you have all of the facts straight before pursuing that route.

Best, Jerry