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Is My Mother Entitled To Back Pay And If So How Does She Go About Getting It?

Asking for my mother...

My mother and stepfather were married for almost 30 years. He was 69 and receiving SSI when he passed on Feb 14. My mother was 59 and receiving SSDI. When she applied for her widow's benefits, she was told there was a mandatory 5-month waiting period, the same as when she applied for her disability. Once her disability was approved, she was entitled to back pay for the 5 month waiting period. However, it seems she is not entitled to back pay for the waiting period for the widow's benefits. We are just trying to figure out why she is not entitled to back pay. If she is, how does she go about getting it?

Hi. No payment is due for the 5 month waiting period for either Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits nor disabled widow's benefits (DWB). However, the 5 month waiting period for DWB can be met prior to the month of the deceased worker's death. So, as long as your mother had already completed her 5 month waiting period for SSDI benefits prior to the month of her husband's death, then it sounds like your mother should likely have been paid DWB benefits starting with that month. Section A.5 of the following reference from Social Security's operations manual addresses this point:

Your mother could request reconsideration of Social Security's determination, but appeals are supposed to be filed within 60 days of the person's award letter. If your mother is still within that time frame then she can request reconsideration by submitting a form SSA-561 ( If not, she'd need to submit the SSA-561 and convince Social Security that there is good cause to accept a late appeal. I would think that if your mother was told by Social Security that she'd be paid back pay after 5 months had passed then that would be good cause for a late appeal request.

If Social Security disallows your mother's appeal because it wasn't filed timely, then she'd have to convince someone at Social Security that her case was mishandled. She could try to ask to speak with a technical expert or supervisor, but that may not be successful. If your mother is unable to resolve the matter by dealing directly with Social Security, she may want to ask the offices of one of her congressional representatives for help. Inquiries submitted to Social Security by a U.S. representative or senator on behalf of a constituent can frequently help expedite resolution of the constituent's problem.

Best, Jerry

Oct 18 2021 - 3:59pm
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