TN 49 (04-12)

RS 00605.022 Frozen Minimum Primary Insurance Amount (PIA)

A. Introduction to frozen minimum PIAs

For number holders (NHs) with a benchmark year after 1978 and before 1982, and for members of certain religious orders (for details on religious orders, see RS 01905.001), the minimum PIA can be no less than $122, the lowest average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) PIA. Because we restrict the application of cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), we call the PIA the frozen minimum PIA.

NOTE: SSA eliminated the frozen minimum PIA starting 01/1982. For more information on the elimination of the minimum benefit, see RS 00605.100.

B. Procedure for calculating the frozen minimum

1. Calculations involved

  1. Compute the AIME PIA in the first month of entitlement and include applicable COLAs. For information, see RS 00615.015.

  2. If this PIA is less than $122, including any applicable COLA (see RS 00605.022C in this section) raise the PIA to this minimum amount. For information on COLAs, see RS 00601.120.

  3. Compare this PIA with all other PIAs computed under applicable methods. Select the highest PIA.

  4. If you select the frozen minimum PIA, apply the rules on subsequent COLAs for the frozen minimum. See RS 00605.022E in this section for an example.

2. Effect of the frozen minimum PIA

The frozen minimum PIA will continue as the PIA of record, even where subsequent COLA increases to PIAs computed under other methods would result in a higher PIA, unless the claimant meets the requirements for a recomputation or recalculation.

For information on recomputations and recalculations of the frozen minimum PIA, see RS 00605.023.

C. Information regarding COLAs

1. When COLAs are applicable

  • Generally, COLAs apply with the increase applicable in the year of entitlement. COLAs may also apply before or after the actual entitlement month if the PIA meets other conditions for applying the COLA.

  • Continue the COLAs as long as at least one person is entitled to benefits for at least one month of the COLA year.

  • If there is subsequent entitlement or reentitlement, use the last PIA of record.

2. Effect of an annual report of earnings

An annual report of earnings may negate a COLA previously added to a PIA where the report shows that the beneficiary is not due benefits for certain RIB or widow(er)’s insurance benefit (WIB) beneficiaries.

D. How to handle COLAs

1. Retirement Insurance Benefits (RIB)

COLAs begin with the COLA for the year that is the earliest of:

  • The year at least a partial month RIB is payable after you apply work deductions.

  • The year the NH attains full retirement age (FRA) and is entitled to benefits.

  • The year the NH becomes entitled to benefits if the entitlement year occurs after FRA. Apply increases for each year thereafter for as long as RIB entitlement exists. Do not consider work suspense after adding the first COLA.

2. Disability insurance benefits (DIB)

Add COLAs to the frozen minimum PIA beginning with the increase applicable for the year of DIB entitlement. Apply subsequent increases as long as DIB entitlement exists.

NOTE: Prior RIB entitlement does not affect the amount of the frozen minimum PIA for DIB entitlement. Do not include any COLAs for years of RIB entitlement that precede the year of DIB entitlement.

3. Survivor other than sole surviving widow(er)

Add COLAs beginning with the increase applicable for the year of entitlement. Apply subsequent increases as long as at least one survivor is entitled.

4. Sole surviving widow(er)

If the only entitled survivor is a widow(er), add COLAs beginning with the year that is earliest of:

  • The year at least a partial month's widow(er)'s benefit is payable after you apply work deductions.

  • The year the widow(er) attains FRA and is entitled to benefits.

  • The year the widow(er) becomes entitled if entitlement occurs after FRA.

    • Apply COLAs for each year thereafter that entitlement exists. Do not consider work suspense after adding the first COLA.

5. Lump sum death payment

The month of death determines the frozen minimum PIA. If the NH dies before the month of a COLA, the frozen minimum PIA is $122. If the NH dies in or after the COLA month for the year, the frozen minimum PIA includes the COLA for that year.

6. Reentitlement

Ignore COLAs for any year in which no beneficiary was entitled for at least one month. Include any COLAs for the year of entitlement, when they meet the other rules for the COLA.

E. Example for RIB with a partial work month

David Saunders, date of birth 01/17/1918, filed for RIB in 12/1980. He worked in all months of 1980 and alleges earnings of $6,500. He elected to receive benefits for the earliest possible month, 01/1980. The AIME PIA in 01/1980 is $90. Establish the minimum PIA of $122 as the AIME PIA. Mr. Saunders also qualifies for a New Start (NS) Transitional Guarantee PIA, which in 01/1980 is equal to $121.80. The largest PIA in the first month of entitlement is $122. Add no COLA until permanent deductions are applied. In 02/1981, Mr. Saunders files his annual report showing $6,050. Since he will receive a partial benefit for the month of 12/1980, apply the 06/80 COLA of 14.3 percent to the $122 ($139.50).


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RS 00605.022 - Frozen Minimum Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) - 04/10/2012
Batch run: 04/10/2012
Rev:04/10/2012