TN 83 (07-14)

GN 00204.045 Assisting Title II Surviving Spouse or Surviving Divorced Spouse Claimants with Month of Election (MOEL) Decisions when the Retirement Insurance Benefit – Limitation (RIB LIM) Applies

A. Definition - RIB LIM

When a deceased number holder (NH) received reduced retirement insurance benefits (RIB), that benefit amount is the maximum the surviving spouse or surviving divorced spouse may receive. This limitation is referred to as the “RIB LIM.” For more information about the RIB LIM, see RS 00615.320.

B. Policy for informing claimants on MOEL decisions when RIB LIM applies

When a widow(er) contacts us to inquire about delaying his or her widow(er) benefits, we must inform the claimant of the month that her or his widow(er)’s benefits will be at the maximum amount payable. Although we provide this information, the claimant must still choose his or her MOEL.

The normal retroactivity rules apply when the RIB LIM is involved. For more information on retroactivity and RIB LIM, see GN 00204.030D.

We consider if RIB LIM applies when we review the form SSA-4111 (Certificate of Election of Reduced Widow(er)'s and Surviving Divorced Spouse’s Benefits) submitted by a claimant. For more information on the SSA-4111, see RS 00207.025. If the claimant did not select the month that maximizes his or her benefits, we contact him or her to explain the MOEL benefit options.

C. Procedure for determining the highest widow insurance benefits (WIB) payable

We use the method in Table 1 to determine the month that we will pay the maximum WIB amount. That month is the highest benefit because the WIB amount will not increase beyond this month. Do not use this method if the widow(er)’s:

  • entitlement is in the year of death, and

  • RIB primary insurance amount (PIA) differs from the NH’s death PIA.

Table 1: Highest Benefit MOEL Computation Method





Divide the RIB LIM amount by the unreduced WIB amount.

$633.50 $740.50 = 0.85550


(Drop everything after 5th decimal)


Subtract the result of Step 1 from 1.0.

1.0 – 0.85550 = 0.1445


Use Table 2 to determine the decimal factor for the widow's full retirement age (FRA)


(Factor for age 66 FRA)


Divide the result of Step 2 by the result of Step 3 and round down to the nearest whole number.

0.1445 0.00396 = 36.49

(Step 2 results) (Step 3 results)

(Rounded to 36 months)


Determine the month of FRA attainment.



Start with the month of FRA and count back the number of months from Step 4 to determine the MOEL for the highest WIB benefit payable.

Starting at 11/16 and counting back 36 months gives 11/13. This is the highest benefit month of entitlement for WIB.

Table 2: Reduction Factor Decimal Equivalents

Date of Birth