I'm Disabled. Why Can't I Collect A Full Widows Benefit In Addition To My Disability Benefit

Jul 16 2016 - 9:30pm

I have read your book , Get what's yours, and it seems to conflict with the answer I get from Social security. I further took a class in social security and they said my case was complicated and they didn't know much about disability issues. The teacher then asked some colleagues who gave him " I think this is right" kind of answers, so I decided I needed to contact you.

I was married on June 21, 1986. I was married 16 years. Divorced on March 8, 2002 I have not re-married.

My ex- husband was on Social security disability for several months before he died. He was a vet. He died on Aug 16, 2002 at the age of 52. He would of been 66 on Nov. 12, 2015. The SS office said he would have received $1784.90 at age 66.

I was found to be disabled on June 26, 2014. Entitled to benefits by December 2014. I receive $1432.80 per month. I turned 60 Dec. 31, 2015.

Here are my questions. Social security office said that I qualified for $251.00 as a survivor benefit. This was calculated by My ex-husbands PIA $1,784.90 minus my SSD benefit of 1,432.80 equals $352.10. He then took a percent off for some reason and came up with $251.00. The total I could qualify for would be $1683.80.
This to me is deeming. This was way low compared to what the book was saying. Your book also warned about taking Social security's word for knowing the rules, other people have told me this also.

The book said that you are unable to take two benefits at the same time. so they will give you the larger of the two. Which is called deeming. It also said that fortunately deeming does not affect survivor benefits.
Does that mean, as a survivor, you can take 2 benefits at once?

The next question is regarding how they calculate My e-husbands benefits. Your book said, (if I read it right) since he died at age 52 they would calculate it two ways and take the larger of the two. He did take SSD for a few months ( I can't remember how long but less then a year I think) Social security office said because he took SSD they didn't do it that way. Is that true?

One part of the book said I could collect half of my ex-husbands full retirement benefit, or a lot less so I must understand how to maximize it. Half of his benefit calculated the way the Social security office did would be $892.45.

One of my biggest concerns is that with SS disability they re-evaluate your case every so often. Because my issues are not easily apparent, I could loose disability benefits. I'm assuming and hoping that my retirement would go back to regular rules with no consequences for having taken it early as SSD. But how would that effect survivor benefits if I took them early? Would the rules all start over as though I hadn't received SSD?

I was told by SS that I could not get survivor benefits before age 60 because even though my son received his last check on July 2007 and I was declared disabled on June 2014 which is one month less then 7 years, that I didn't receive a check until Dec. 2014. One of those rules that makes no sense to me. If they were wrong about this could I collect benefits, retroactive?

The book also said, a disabled ex- wife could get 71% of the covered workers PIA which would be, $1276.20.
So which of these is right? There was also a place where it said taking survivor benefits at 60 means a big reduction of 28.5%. So what would the survivor benefit be if I waited till 62. All of these statements seem to conflict.

My understanding is that my benefit could be $1432.80 plus $251.00 which equals 1683.80 which is what Social security wanted me to take. Or the biggest possible one would be $1432.80 plus $1276.20 which equals $2709.00. Huge difference. Which one is right, or is it somewhere in between? This why I decided I needed your help.

Thank you very much for all your help. Linda

Dear Linda,

I strongly recommend you run our $40 program at www.maximizemysocialsecurity.com. Disabled people are treated differently from non-disabled people. In particular, since you are already collecting one benefit, if you also take your widow benefit, you will get an excess widow benefit, not a full widow benefit. The excess widow benefit is the difference between your reduced full widow benefit and your own disability benefit. This is not formally called deeming, but it has a similar impact insofar as you can no longer collect a full widow benefit by itself.

The big issue for you is when to take your widow benefit and whether to suspend your retirement benefit at full retirement age and restart it at 70. (Note, at full retirement age, your disability benefit is transformed into, i.e., is called your retirement benefit). It may be optimal to take your reduced excess widow benefit right now and then suspend your retirement benefit starting at full retirement age for up to four years, during which time you'll only collect your excess widow benefit. Or it might be better to wait until full retirement age to take your unreduced excess widow benefit and not suspend your retirement benefit. Only extremely precise software can look at all the options and tell you which will maximize your lifetime benefits. So please do run our program. I can't, nor can anyone else, including those at Social Security, say which is best without doing to math. The program will also tell you exactly what you should be collecting before any deductions for Medicare Part B premiums and tax withholding.

best, Larry