20 CFR 404.338
At issue in this case was the claimant's benefit amount. Specifically at issue was the manner in which her widow's insurance benefits (WIB) were reduced because of the worker's entitlement to reduced old-age insurance benefits (OAIB) prior to his death.
The worker, who was born on March 23, 1914, applied for OAIB and for disability insurance benefits (DIB) on January 26, 1976. he was awarded reduced OAIB effective March 1976 and reduced DIB effective May 1976. The worker, however, died on April 8, 1976; therefore, he was paid benefits for only one month, March 1976.
On October 1, 1982, the claimant, who was born on January 29, 1918, applied for WIB on the deceased worker's earnings record and was awarded a monthly benefit of $530.50 effective January 1983. This amount was 82 1/2 percent of the deceased worker's primary insurance amount (PIA). On appeal, the claimant contended that her WIB should be equal to 100 percent of the deceased worker's PIA.
Section 202(e)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act (the Act) provides, in pertinent part, that --
"Except as provided in . . . subparagraph (D) of this paragraph, such widow's insurance benefit for each month shall be equal to the primary insurance amount . . . of such deceased individual."
Section 202(e)(2)(D) of the Act provides that, if an insured person had been entitled to an OAIB reduced for age, the widow's WIB will be the larger of (i) the amount the insured would have been entitled to if he were still alive or (ii) 82 1/2 percent of the insured's PIA.
In January 1983, considering cost-of-living increases, the deceased worker's PIA would have been $643.10. The Appeals Council (AC) found, however, that the claimant was not entitled to this sum. Although no reduction was required in the claimant's benefit amount because of her own age (she was age 65 in her initial month of entitlement), section 202(e)(2)(D) of the Act required that a reduction be made to reflect the deceased worker's entitlement to an OAIB reduced for age. To determine whether the claimant was due 82 1/2 percent of the deceased worker's PIA ($530.50), the AC had to determine whether a higher benefit was payable under section 202(e)(2)(D)(i) of the Act.
The AC noted that, if the worker had lived, he would have been entitled to reduced DIB effective May 1976. As of January 1983, his reduced monthly benefit adjusted for cost-of-living increases would have been $637.00. Because this amount exceeded 82 1/2 percent of the deceased worker's PIA, the AC concluded, under section 202(e)(2)(D)(i) of the Act, that the claimant's WIB effective January 1983 was $637.00.
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