Why Is Social Security Paying My Wife's Benefits In Two Payments?

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Feb 7 2020 - 5:26pm

I retired at 65 and took a reduced SS benefit of $2038, My wife just filed for spousal benefit at Full Retirement age of 66, she was on disability for may years and was getting a payment of $640. SS sent a letter stating she will continue her $640 on the 2nd Wednesday and spousal benefit of $384 on the 3rd Wednesday. I never heard of someone getting 2 payments, I thought you always got the higher benefit. Thanks for your reply

Hi,

Once you start drawing Social Security benefits based on your own work record, Social Security continues to pay those benefits even if you later become eligible for another type of benefit (e.g. spousal, survivor). So, if the other benefit is higher than the person's own benefit, the other benefit is essentially calculated by subtracting the person's own benefit rate from the higher rate. In other words, the person ends up receiving their own benefit rate plus an additional partial rate that basically adds up to the higher rate. The actual calculations involved can be a bit more complicated than that, but that's the gist of it.

In most cases when a person is receiving more than one type of benefit the benefits are combined into one payment. However, Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits are paid from a different trust fund than the trust fund from which Social Security retirement and survivor benefits are paid. So, if a person entitled to more than one type of benefit and the benefits are paid from different trust funds, then the benefit payments can't be combined. That explains the notice your wife received.

However, your wife's SSDI benefits will automatically convert to regular Social Security retirement benefits when she reaches full retirement age (FRA), and after that conversion takes place then her benefits will both be coming from the same trust fund. So, in spite of what her notice now says, at some point in the near future your wife's benefits should be combined into one payment.

Best, Jerry