TN 24 (09-02)
RS 00615.301 Reduced Widow(er)'s Benefits
A. Policy - general
Widow(er) benefits are benefits paid to those with a BIC of D or W (any subscript). Although Mothers and Fathers (BIC E with any subscript) are legally widow(er)s, a benefit as a Mother or Father is not defined as a widow(er) benefit. Amendments over the years have changed how we pay widow(er)’s benefits. For more information on how widow(er)’s benefits have been affected by these amendments and to compute their payments for previous years, refer to section RS 00615.005.
1. Eligibility for widow(er)'s benefits on more than one record
Entitlement to reduced WIB on one earnings record does not affect subsequent entitlement to WIB on another earnings record. A widow(er) can receive reduced benefits on one record for a period of time and later file on another record to receive a higher benefit.
If the widow(er) files on both records and does not restrict his or her application, he or she will be technically entitled on both but paid the higher rate. Months of technical entitlement for which no payment was made cannot be eliminated from the widow(er)'s RF at FRA.
2. Reentitlement to widow(er) benefits after a period of non-entitlement or non-payment
When a widow(er) is reentitled on the same earnings record to the same type of benefit (D, W, and D4 are the same type of benefit), the first month of the earlier entitlement is the controlling factor in establishing the RF.
Where a correct termination of WIB occurs before FRA and the individual is again entitled to WIB, on the same earnings record, months of non-entitlement are eliminated from the RF at age 62 and/or FRA. For example, an individual files for WIB on her husband’s earnings record at age 60. At age 62, she files for higher RIB on her own earnings record, which causes her WIB to be terminated because her own RIB PIA is higher than her WIB on her husband’s earnings record. At FRA, she files for WIB again on her husband’s earnings record and receives an ARF for the months in which she was terminated due to higher RIB entitlement.
If benefits were suspended for “administrative” reasons because entitlement on another SSN did not cause termination, months of non-payment cannot be removed from the RF. Work months and child-in-care months falling in a period of technical entitlement will be eliminated from the RF at age 62 and at FRA.
3. WIB Original Benefit (OB)
The WIB OB is equal to 100 percent of the largest of the following PIAs:
The original benefit is subject to reduction for the family maximum unless the widow(er) is entitled as a surviving divorced spouse.
B. Policy - reduced widow(er)'s benefits
1. Amount of WIB reduction
a. Date of birth 1/1/40 or earlier
For people born 1/1/40 or earlier, the WIB is reduced 19/40 of 1% per month for months between age 60 and age 65 up to a maximum reduction of 28.5%.
b. Date of birth after 1/1/40
For people born after 1/1/40, FRA is gradually increased to age 67. However, the maximum reduction is still set at 28.5%. This causes the fractions involved in widow(er) reduction to vary depending on the date of birth.
EXAMPLE: Benefits for a widow(er) born 6/15/39 are reduced by 19/40 of
1% for each RF, while a widow(er) born 6/15/40 is reduced by 57/124 of 1%
for each RF.
c. Reduction formula
Reduced widow(er)'s benefits are computed as follows using the fractions from RS 00615.301B.2:
Step 1. OB x RF x fraction x .01
= MAR (reduction amount)
Step 2. OB – MAR
Round the MAR up to the next dime for benefits after 5/82 and down to the next dime for benefits prior to 6/82. This formula can be used for any widow(er) regardless of FRA as long as the correct fraction is used. If the widow(er)'s benefit is reduced because of the family maximum, use the reduced amount in place of the OB.
EXAMPLE: A widow born on 6/15/1940 is entitled beginning 7/2002. Her FRA is age 65 + 2 which will occur in 8/2005. RF is 37. The OB is $987.60.
Using the above formula:
$987.60 x 37 x 57 x .01
= $168.00 (rounded up)
$987.60 - $168.00
= $819.60 payable
d. Alternative reduction method
An alternative method of computing a reduced widow (er) benefit eliminates the use of the different fractions. It requires the use of the total possible RF for each claimant based on his or her date of birth. That number will vary from 60 to 84. That method is:
(OB or Unreduced Benefit) x RF x .285 = MAR
Total possible RF for claimant's date of birth
Round the result up to the next dime for benefits after 5/82 and down to the next dime for benefits prior to 6/82. The result is the amount of reduction. Subtract the MAR from the OB for the amount payable
EXAMPLE: A widow born on 6/15/1940 is entitled beginning 7/2002. Her FRA is age 65 + 2. Her RF is 37 while the total possible RF is 62. The OB is $987.60.
Using the above formula:
$987.60 x 37 x .285 = 167.97 rounded up = 168.00
$987.60 – 168.00 = $819.60 payable
e. Additional reduction for months prior to age 60
Prior to 1984, benefits to disabled widow(er)s were reduced an additional 43/240 of 1% for each month of entitlement prior to age 60.
Beginning 1/84, disabled widow(er)s are deemed to be age 60 and there is no additional reduction for months before age 60. In other words, all disabled widow(er)s under age 60 receive .715 of the full unreduced WIB for 1/84 and later.
NOTE: Do not use the chart below to compute benefits for disabled widow(er)s prior to 1/84. Compute those rates as follows:
Step 1. Multiply unreduced WIB rate x .285.
Step 2. Multiply unreduced WIB rate x .01 x RF prior to age 60 x 43/240.
Step 3. Add the two results and subtract from the WIB rate.
2. Chart - widow(er)'s benefit reduction factors
This chart shows the factors to use when determining a reduced WIB rate. Use the claimant's date of birth to find:
the FRA to use in determining the number of reduction months, and
the fraction to use in the formula in RS 00615.301B.1.c.
NOTE: This chart can be used whether a widow(er)'s full retirement age is 65 or greater.
Date of Birth
1/2/40 - 1/1/41
65 + 2
1/2/41 - 1/1/42
65 + 4
1/2/42 - 1/1/43
65 + 6
1/2/43 - 1/1/44
65 + 8
1/2/44 - 1/1/45
65 + 10
1/2/45 - 1/1/57
1/2/57 - 1/1/58
66 + 2
1/2/58 - 1/1/59
66 + 4
1/2/59 - 1/1/60
66 + 6
1/2/60 - 1/1/61
66 + 8
1/2/61 - 1/1/62
66 + 10
1/2/62 or later
NOTE: The basic reduction for WIB varies depending on the FRA. Unlike RIB and spouse's benefits the WIB reduction is limited to 28.5% for all widow(er)s. This causes each different FRA to have a different fraction. To eliminate the need for separate multi-page charts for each FRA the WIB reduction involves two separate steps. The reduction must be calculated and then subtracted.