Florida Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Social Security Underpaying Some Widowed Spouses- Keep An Eye Out!

Social Security

In a July 2017 post we addressed why it is important to educate yourself about Social Security benefits, and to not rely solely on advice from the agency. A recent report from the Inspector General provides fresh support for this notion.

If you can delay taking benefits, the rewards can be substantial: According to the Social Social Security Administration, you will get 132% of your monthly benefit if you wait until age age 70 to collect. However, the Inspector General’s audit revealed that Social Security staff often fail to inform widowed spouses that they can claim survivor benefits yet still delay taking their own benefits until age 70. As a result, the audit estimates that 82% of widowed spouses who are entitled to receive benefits are being underpaid.

The report states, in part: “We did not find any evidence SSA had informed claimants of the option to delay their retirement application when they applied for benefits, as required. We also found that SSA did not have systems controls in place to alert its employees when they should inform [widows] of their option to delay their applications for retirement benefits.”

You can read the original report from the Inspector General  here.

Some helpful resources to learn about Social Security benefits are:
Official Social Security site calculatorsConsumer Financial Protection Bureau AARP Financial Engines Social Security Retirement Calculator    E$Planner Maximize My Social SecurityBoston College Center for Retirement Research  Social Security Solutions