Is My Understanding Correct?

Nov 20 2018 - 2:32pm

Linda DOB 12/31/1957 Age 60.
Spouse Deceased 1/28/2016 - Married over 10 years.
Spouse Age 56 at time of death.
Spouse was receiving SSDI at time of death.
Linda began receiving Widows Benefits at age 60.
Linda has received Widows Benefits for the months of December 2017 to present.
Linda applied for SSDI in June 2015.
Linda has been awarded SSDI benefits.
Linda's Date Of Entitlement began 12/2015.
Linda began receiving Monthly SSDI Benefits and Modified Widows Benefits effective 8/2018.
According to SSA, Linda is Dually Entitled for SSDI and Reduced Widows Benefits.
Linda has NOT received any back pay to date.
Linda has NOT received notification of Back Pay calculations.
Linda HAS received a $10,000 bill for Overpaid Widows Benefits for December 2017 through August 2018.
Linda has never received any form of SSA benefits prior to December 2017.
As I understand...
Linda should be entitled to DISABLED Widows Benefits Back Pay from death of spouse, January 2016 through November 2017.
Linda should be entitled SSDI Back Pay for the months December 2015 through July 2018.
Funds Received To Date:
$1,485.00gross - Monthly Widows Benefit December 2017-September 2018
$ 411.00gross Adjusted Widows Benefit effective October 2018.
$1,501.00gross Monthly SSDI Benefit effective August 2018.


Let me start out by explaining how surviving divorced spousal benefits are calculated when the survivor was entitled to Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) when they became entitled to survivor benefits. First, the SSDI benefit is paid in full. Then, if the deceased worker's primary insurance amount (PIA) is higher than the survivor's SSDI rate and the date of entitlement to survivor benefits starts at or before the month that the survivor reaches age 60, the survivor rate is calculated at 71.5% of the difference between the deceased worker's PIA and the survivors SSDI rate.

Therefore, based on the figures listed at the end of your question, it appears that the deceased worker's PIA in this case is roughly $2077. And, if the survivor's SSDI rate is $1501, that would mean that the $411 adjusted survivor rate would be correct (i.e. ($2077 - $1501) x .715). So, Linda's current combined benefit rate of $1912 is probably accurate.

Social Security should go back and recalculate Linda's survivor benefit rate as explained above for her past months of entitlement. Linda could also be eligible for disabled survivor benefits for months prior to age 60, but the maximum retroactivity allowed for disabled survivor benefits is 12 months prior to the date they applied for survivor benefits. So, for example, if Linda filed her application for survivor benefits in December 2017, her earliest month of potential entitlement to disabled survivor benefits would be December 2016.

From your description of the months of entitlement and benefits paid to date, I don't see how Linda could have been overpaid $10,000. However, she should not have been paid her full SSDI rate and her unadjusted survivor rate of $1485 for the same months, which is apparently what occurred for the months August and September of 2018. I assume that Social Security is still working on her case in order to determine her correct benefit rates for months prior to August 2018, and that the back pay due for those past months should eventually more than offset any overpayment that may have occurred to date.

Best, Jerry