TN 27 (06-04)

RS 00615.302 Windexing - Alternate Method of Computing Benefits for Widow(er)s First Eligible 1/85 and Later

A. Introduction

Normally, when a worker dies prior to attaining age 62, survivors' benefits are computed using the year of death as the eligibility year. The 1983 amendments provided for an alternative WIB computation in certain cases. This alternative computation (Windexing) must be considered when a widow(er) becomes first eligible in 1985 or later and the worker dies before age 62. This method allows the widow(er) to benefit from the higher indexing factors and bend points that occur after the worker's death. Windexing is a monthly benefit computation used only for the eligible widow(er). It is not a true survivor PIA computation and is not used for determining benefits for any other survivor on the record. Windexing is used only when it results in a higher benefit than the regular method described in RS 00615.301.

B. Policy

1. Requirements for Windexing to Apply

All of the following requirements must be met in order for Windexing to apply.

  • Widow(er) cannot have been eligible as a D/W (any subscript) on any record before 1985. Entitlement was not necessary, just eligibility. If prior entitlement as a widow(er) existed, even if ended, that first eligibility controls whether Windexing can apply. NOTE: Eligibility or entitlement as a Mother/Father is not the same as eligibility as a widow(er). This first bullet can be disregarded for all aged widow(er)s born in 1925 or later and for all disabled widow(er)s born in 1935 or later. Those born after those dates could not be eligible prior to 1985.

  • Death of the NH must be after 1978.

  • NH death must occur before his/her attainment of age 62. This can be the day before as long as it is prior to age 62.

  • Death PIA must be computed under a 1977 amendment method. The death PIA is the PIA that would be used to pay any survivor after all possible PIAs are considered. NOTE: 1977 amendment methods are the 78 New Start (PIFC L), 77 Simplified Old Start (PIFC O) and the SUB DIB Guarantee (PIFC S).

  • Widow(er)'s first eligibility must be after the death of the NH (unless a prior period of disability is involved). The widow(er) is first eligible when he or she is both age 50 and disabled or, when he or she is age 60. If the eligibility requirement was met at the time of the NH death and there is no prior period of disability Windexing will not apply because we will already be using the year of death as the ELY. If there was a prior period Windexing should be considered NOTE: Beginning with January 1991 a person entitled to disability benefits as an HA is first eligible as a disabled widow(er) in the first month after the death of the NH that he or she is age 50, whether or not he or she files for those benefits. The finding of disability as an HA is also a finding of disability for the widow(er).

2. No Prior Period of DIB or a Period That Began in 1979 or Later

If there is no prior period of DIB or a prior period that began in 1979 or later, the death PIA will always be a 78 NS or 77 SOS and Windexing will apply. The death PIA and the Windex PIA can be either exclusion or non-exclusion computations.

3. Prior Period of DIB That Began Before 1979

When there was a prior period of DIB that began before 1979, the death PIA will be one of the following PIAs:

  • The death PIA may be based on a pre-1977 amendment PIA (Any PIFC code other than L, O or S) because the prior period ended within 12 months of the month of death and an exclusion PIA is used. Windexing does not apply because the death PIA is not a 1977 amendment method because the eligibility year was before 1979.

  • The death PIA may be a 78 NS or 77 SOS PIA based on a non-exclusion computation because the prior period is not used. Windexing may apply but only a non-exclusion Windex PIA can be used.

  • If the prior period ended more than 12 months before the month of death, the death PIA may be either an exclusion or non-exclusion 78 NS or 77 SOS amendment PIA because the eligibility year is after 1978. Windexing may apply and either an exclusion or non-exclusion Windex PIA may be used.

  • If the death PIA is a SUB DIB Guarantee PIA, the Windexing PIA can apply and can be either an exclusion or non-exclusion computation.

C. Examples of Possible Factors

1. A worker dies in 1988.  The widow(er) attains age 60 in 2003.  The worker would have attained age 62 in 2004.

Before Windexing we would have used 1988 as the eligibility year to pay the widow(er) even though her benefits do not start until 2003.  Windexing allows us to use an eligibility year of 2003.  We therefore have much higher indexed earnings and bend points so we would have a higher benefit for her.   

2. A worker dies in 1988.  The widow(er) attains age 60 in 1988 (or even before 1988).  The worker would have attained age 62 in 2004.

In this case 1988 will be the eligibility year whether or not we use Windexing so the benefit will be the same.  It is not necessary to consider Windexing in cases where the widow is first eligible in the year of death or earlier. The only exception is when a prior period of disability exists and Windexing may be considered because it will allow the use of fewer elapsed years while still using the same ELY.

3. A worker dies in 1988.  The widow(er) attains age 60 in 2004.  The worker would have attained age 62 in 2004.

In this case 2004 will be the eligibility year based on Windexing because it results in a higher benefit.

4. A worker dies in 1988.  The worker would have attained age 62 in 2004.  The widow(er) attains age 60 in 2005. 

In this case 2004 will be the eligibility year based on Windexing and will give a higher benefit (although benefits won't start until 2005).

5. A worker attains age 62 in 1998. The worker dies in 2001. The widow(er) attains age 60 in 2003. 

When the worker dies after age 62, the year of attainment of age 62 is always the eligibility year so Windexing will never apply.  

6. A worker dies in March 1998 who would have attained age 62 in May 1998. The widow(er) attains age 60 in 2003.

When the worker dies in the year age 62 would be attained that year will be the eligibility year so Windexing will never apply. The only exception is when a prior period of disability exists and Windexing may be considered because it will allow the use of fewer elapsed years while still using the same ELY.

7. A worker with DIB which started in July 1986 died 9/2/2003. He would have attained age 62 in September 2005. The widow(er) is first eligible in September 2004.

Windexing can be used because it allows us to use 2004 as the eligibility year. Without Windexing we would have used 2003. We do not consider 1986 because the prior DIB eligibility year cannot be used to determine the Windexing eligibility year.

D. Procedure

1. Choose the Indexing Year

The widow(er)'s indexing year is chosen as a result of two comparisons.

  1. First compare the year the NH died and the year the widow(er) was first eligible and choose the later. A widow(er) is first eligible:

    • In the year of attainment of age 60, or

    • In the first year the claimant is at least age 50 and has been found to be disabled.

    NOTE: Attainment of age 60 after entitlement as a disabled widow(er) is not cause for recalculation of step a. First eligibility to either benefit is used for Windexing.

  2. Then compare the year in a. with the year the DNH would have attained age 62. Choose the earlier year. This is the Windexing eligibility year.

  3. The indexing year for Windexing is 2 years earlier than the eligibility year.

2. Determine Computation of Factors

  • Use the year of death to determine elapsed years, computation years, divisor months and base years.

  • Use the WIB eligibility year as determined in RS 00615.302D.1.a. to determine bend points and COLA's.

  • If the DNH was entitled to DIB in any of the 12 months prior to death, the prior DIB onset may not be used to determine the WIB indexing year even if the year of death is selected as the WIB indexing benchmark year. However, in a disability exclusion computation (freeze computation), the period of disability will be excluded from the computation (elapsed years and base years).

3. Family Benefits

The Windexing PIA does not have a corresponding family maximum because it is only a monthly benefit computation. The regular death PIA and eligibility year are used to determine:

  • family maximum, and

  • pro rata share of benefits paid to other survivors on the record (see RS 00615.756), and

  • original benefit amounts, and

  • date COLA's begin.

E. Worksheet For Determining Windexing Eligibility Year

Follow these steps to determine if Windexing applies and the applicable eligibility year.

STEPIf YesIf No
  1. Did the NH die prior to attainment of age 62?

Go to step 2.

STOP – Windexing does not apply.

  1. Did the NH die before 1979 or is his year of birth before 1917?

STOP – Windexing does not apply.

Go to step 3.

  1. Was the DNH entitled to DIB in the 12 months prior to death with a DIB ELY before 1979?

Go to step 4.

Go to step 5.

  1. Does using that period of DIB result in a higher non-77 amendment PIA?

STOP – Windexing does not apply.

Go to step 5.

  1. Was the widow(er) eligible for entitlement before 1985?

STOP – Windexing does not apply.

Windexing applies – Go to step 6.

  1. What is the year of the DNH's death: ________?

What is the year the widow(er) is first eligible: ________?

Select the later year and go to step 7.

  1. What is the year selected in step 6: ________?

What is the year the numberholder would have attained age 62:_____?

The earlier of these two years is the Windexing eligibility year.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0300615302
RS 00615.302 - Windexing - Alternate Method of Computing Benefits for Widow(er)s First Eligible 1/85 and Later - 07/06/2016
Batch run: 07/06/2016
Rev: