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Social Security Underpays Widowed Beneficiaries

Last update on: Jun 19 2020

For the second time in four years and third time since 2008, the Social Security Office of the Inspector General concluded that the agency is significantly underpaying benefits to widowed beneficiaries. The latest report found that it doesn’t tell surviving spouses that they can apply for survivor’s benefits before age 70 and delay receipt of their own earned benefits until age 70, when they would be substantially higher. Social Security’s default process is that it assumes a person is applying for the higher of earned benefits and survivor’s benefit unless the person specifically limits the application. Most people don’t know to limit the application to survivor’s benefits, so Social Security begins paying them their regular benefits when that is higher than the survivor’s benefits.

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