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why does ss only pay for suvivor benefits up to six months…

Customer Question
why does ss only pay...
why does ss only pay for suvivor benefits up to six months back. I have been given this benefit last month on my wife who died 20 years ago and I just became aware of this. I started drawing my ss 18 years ago and was not told of this being available.
Submitted: 4 years ago.Category: Social Security
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Answered in 17 minutes by:
4/4/2014
Social Security Expert: Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney replied 4 years ago
Stephanie O Joy, Esq
Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 13,627
Experience: 22+ years legal exp. - 12+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
Verified
Hi, my name is Stephanie and I thank you for your inquiry. I have been practicing SS law full time for 10+ years and look forward to assisting you.

Are you sure you wish to pay the fee for this answer? The answer may not be what you wish, but it will be accurate.

To that end, can you tell me your current age? I will seek to determine how far back you could have filed.

Thanks,
Stephanie
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

My age is 80 next month

Social Security Expert: Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney replied 4 years ago
This is so very disturbing to me, but yes, it is a codified rule put in place by our lawmakers. There is a limit to back benefits payable, prior to the date of application for such "benefits". Most benefit types allow back benefits of some kind, for months prior to the date of application, with the exception of SSI (welfare/supplmental security income). However, those that do allow back benefits, such as widow benefits, limit it to 6 months, with the exception of those that are disabled, probably because there is a 12 month durational limit that unneccesarily causes some to delay applying (to the benefit of the SSA) until after the 12 months have passed.

The reason, and only reason I am aware of for the 6 month limit is the desire to SAVE money - similar to how health insurance companies require a claim be made after a triggering event within X weeks or months.


What is so disturbing to me is that I see people lose out on what they could have had based on a loved one's work record, very frequently. I see children who could have had child's benefits on the working record of a parent who became disabled or deceased, lose out for years, just like you did. Yet, there is clearly a connection between a child's SS# and its parent, so why would there not be an automatic trigger.

What is confusing to me here also, is that, at least now, when a person files for his own retirement benefits (at 62/early, or if he waits til the normal retirement age) or disability benefits, they always ask if you are married to see if you have a record on a spouse that may be greater. I was not practicing SS 20 years ago, so I can not say if that question was on the application then, but presumably it was.

What is also unfortunate is that you could have taken widow benefits at age 60, when your wife passed. (It would not have been her full rate though, since that is several years before your full retirement age - right now, you are collecting her full rate.)

In your case, it sounds like your wife made more money than you in her lifetime, had a greater benefit rate than you, and that, had you known that you could apply for a widower benefit you certainly would have. I have to urge everyone to contact their United States Congress persons and urge them to change this, to ensure that filing for SS of any kind, should mean a filing application for all eligible for. IT is true that the SSA may not have known of your wife's passing when she passed, since neither your nor she were collecting SS at that time (presumably), and so SSA was not notified of the death, and does not necessarily know of every marriage. However, once YOU applied for any benefit, and that connection was made with the SSA, it should be that they inquire as to marriages, and if they fail, then the filing should be retroactive to that date. This is something I very much would like to see a change in, in our SS Act/rules/regs.

I hope this helps to explain the answer to your question as to WHY. It is all for money saving by the SSA, as I understand it. My goal is to provide you with excellent and accurate service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate me "excellent" when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, should you have legal questions. Be sure to start future posts with "To Stephanie O. Joy, Esq., ONLY" if you want me to specifically answer it.

Sincerely, Stephanie

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