TN 63 (02-19)

RS 00605.005 Benchmark Year (Eligibility Year)

A. Policy - General

1. Definition

The benchmark year, or eligibility year, for computation purposes is the year in which the number holder attains a specific age or a specific event occurs.

2. Retirement Insurance Benefit

The benchmark year for RIB is the year of age 62 attainment (see RS 00605.040A.2.e. for men born before January 2, 1913).

3. Disability Insurance Benefit

The benchmark year for DIB is the earlier of:

  • the year of actual age 62 attainment, or

  • the year of disability onset or date of first insured status if later (freeze computation); or assumed age 62 (non-freeze computation). See RS 00605.220 - RS 00605.225 for discussions of freeze and non-freeze. See RS 00605.201 for a definition of “assumed age 62.”

4. Survivor

The benchmark year for survivor's benefits is the earlier of:

  • the year of age 62 attainment; or

  • the year of death.

NOTE:: 

See RS 00615.302 for a benchmark determination for the widow(er)'s indexing provision. This provision does not change the benchmark determination for a deceased number holder's (NH's) record.

B. Policy - Prior DIB Involved

In determining the benchmark year, the following rules apply where the NH was entitled to DIB before the current entitlement or death.

NOTE: Whether the benefit was paid is immaterial. A month of suspension for EPE still counts as entitlement.

1. Within 12 Months

If the NH was entitled to DIB in any of the 12 months before the date (month and year) determined in RS 00605.005A., the benchmark year is the year of onset from the prior DIB. This is unless the prior period of DIB is not used. See RS 00605.005B.3.If there is more than one prior period of DIB, the benchmark year reverts backwards through the periods of disability until the first period of disability that is preceded by a gap in DIB entitlement of more than 12 months (or there is no DIB at all).

NOTE:: 

The prior DIB entitlement may continue after the date in RS 00605.005A

2. More Than 12 Months

If the NH was entitled to DIB, and there is a gap of more than 12 months before the date (month and year) determined in RS 00605.005A., the current eligibility date (month and year) from RS 00605.005A. will be the benchmark year.

3. Prior Period Not Used

You may disregard the prior period of disability if the NH is insured without considering the period.

If you disregard the period for one purpose, you must disregard it for all computation purposes. This includes elapsed years, base years, and benchmark year determinations.

4. DIB Guarantee PIA used as Survivor PIA

If using a DIB Guarantee PIA to pay survivor benefits, the eligibility year is the year of age 62 or death if before age 62. The DIB Guarantee is a 78 New Law PIA, so Windexing may apply.

C. Procedure

To determine the benchmark year:

1. Insured Status

Establish the benchmark year without considering insured status if you are using age 62 attainment for the benchmark year. Make an insured status determination if you are basing the benchmark year on disability onset or death.

2. PIA Computations

Compute a PIA using all applicable computation methods for each benchmark year determined under RS 00605.005A. and RS 00605.005B.

3. COLA's

Include all COLAs that apply to the computation method up to the date of entitlement.

NOTE:: 

Since we apply COLAs for some PIA methods by using the benchmark year, the number of applicable COLAs may vary for the same NH.

Select the PIA upon which you will base payment after you apply COLAs.

4. Selection

Compare all PIAs and select the highest. This is the PIA of record. Establish the benchmark year by selecting the one that produces the highest PIA.

D. Examples

Example 1

Susan, DOB 2/20/29, filed for DIB in 1/88. A period of disability was established beginning 6/12/87. Her benchmark year was 1987, the year in which the period of disability began.

Her condition improved so her DIB was terminated 10/89 (the DIB entitlement continued through 9/89). In 3/91, at age 62, she filed for RIB. Since she was not entitled to DIB for any of the 12 months preceding the month she attained age 62, her benchmark year for the RIB PIA computation is 1991. Nevertheless, the prior period may be considered in establishing insured status and in determining elapsed years, computation years, and the base years. A non-freeze computation must also be considered.

Example 2

Same facts as above except Susan again became disabled in 7/90. Since she was eligible for DIB within 12 months of the last month of her prior DIB entitlement for a freeze computation, her benchmark year remains 1987, the year her prior period of disability began.

If the prior period of disability is not considered, her benchmark year is 1990, the year of assumed age 62. Disability insured status must be met in 7/90 if this non-freeze computation is used.

Example 3

Sam, DOB 04/05/45, filed for DIB in 12/90. He had no prior periods of disability. We established a period of disability with an onset date of 05/18/90. His benchmark year based on this period of disability was 1990.

Sam’s initial period of disability terminated in 05/92. He reapplied for DIB in 02/93 with an onset date of 01/15/93. We approved Sam for DIB, and his benchmark year remained 1990.

Sam’s second period of DIB terminated in 07/97 He reapplied for disability benefits in 12/97 with an onset date of 11/20/97. Again, we approved Sam for disability benefits. Using a DIB freeze computation, Sam’s benchmark year remained 1990.

Even though Sam had multiple periods of disability, there was never a gap in entitlement greater than 12 months. Therefore, the benchmark year remained the same as his very first period of disability. This assumes that we used the prior period of disability.

E. Reference

RS 00605.035 Subsequent DIB guarantee PIA


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0300605005
RS 00605.005 - Benchmark Year (Eligibility Year) - 02/13/2019
Batch run: 02/13/2019
Rev:02/13/2019