How Can I Get My Benefit Amount Straightened Out?

Apr 17 2018 - 3:59pm

I lost my husband on July 1, 2017 and I am only getting $71 of his Social Security a month. I have tried my best to get things straightened out and I have gotten now where. I am on disability myself and things are very tough. How can I get things straightened out so I get the amount I am suppose to be receiving? I have been so stressed out and can't take to more.

This is some information I found and I am suppose to be receiving a lot more then I am getting.

Disabled widow or widower aged 50 through 59—71½ percent

I am not even close to getting this and I want it changed.

Hi,

I'm sorry for your loss.

I'm assuming from your question that you are currently in your 50s. I have no way of knowing if your benefit rate has been computed correctly, so I can only explain how your disabled widow's benefit should be calculated.

First off, it's important to understand that you can only be paid essentially the higher of your disabled widow's rate or your own Social Security disability benefit (SSDI) rate, not both. If your SSDI rate is lower than your husband's primary insurance amount (PIA), what you could be paid as a disabled widow is your own SSDI rate plus 71.5% of the difference between your full SSDI rate and your husband's PIA.

For example, Mary is between ages 50 & 59 and is receiving an SSDI benefit rate of $1000 when her husband dies. Mary's husband's PIA is $1200, so Mary's disabled widow's benefit rate would be $143 (i.e. ($1200-$1000) * .715). So, in this example Mary's combined benefit rate would be $1143.

The only small bit of good news that I can give you is that since you were already apparently drawing SSDI when you became entitled to disabled widow's benefits, the 28.5% reduction applied to your widow's benefit rate should be removed after you reach your full retirement age. That will likely give you at least a somewhat higher overall benefit rate from then on.

If you still believe that your benefit rate is incorrect, about your only possible recourse would be to file an appeal with Social Security (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10041.pdf).

Best, Jerry