A worker, M, born in February 1931, died in June 1962. He had served on active duty in the United States Marine Corps from March 20, 1951, through March 19, 1954, when he received an honorable discharge. His social security earnings record showed the following entries of earnings: 1937 through 1953 -- none; 1954 -- $388.50; 1955 -- $1,126.51; 1956 -- $2,238.72; 1957 -- $1,809.80; 1958 through 1962 -- none. No benefit based on any part of his military service had been awarded by any Federal agency.
Upon M's death, his widow, who was living with him when he died, filed application on his earnings record for mother's insurance benefits and a lump-sum death payment for herself, and for child's insurance benefits on behalf of their minor son who was in her care. The widow and son met all requirements for entitlement to the benefits claimed, with monthly benefits beginning June 1962. The amounts of the benefits to which they are entitled must be determined.
Under section 202(g) and (d), a mother's insurance benefit and a child's insurance benefit payable on a deceased worker's earnings record are each equal to three-fourth's of the worker's primary insurance amount. Under section 202(i), the lump-sum death payment is (subject to exceptions not pertinent here) either $255 or 3 times the worker's primary insurance amount, whichever is less.
Under sections 215(a) and 215(b), M's primary insurance amount is based on his average monthly wage in his "benefit computation years." In this case, the benefit computation years are those 4 years in which M's earnings were highest, selected from the years after 1950 up to or including the year in which he died (1962). The number of benefit computation years, 4, was derived (as required by the provisions of section 215(b) applicable in M's case) by subtracting 5 from the number of years elapsing after 1950 or, if later, the year in which M attained age 21 (1952), and before the year in which he died (1962). The number of years elapsing after 1952 and before 1962 is 9; subtracting 5 from this number, the number of benefit computation years is 4.
Accordingly, M's primary insurance amount depends upon his average monthly wage in the 4 years between 1951 and 1962 (inclusive) in which his earnings were highest, earnings in any year being the total of wages and self-employment creditable to the worker for that year. Before the years of highest earnings can be selected, it is necessary to consider the effect upon M's creditable earnings of his active military service from March 20, 1951, through March 19, 1954.
Military service before 1957 is excluded from employment covered under the Act, and thus, remuneration for such service is not creditable earnings. However, under section 217 of the Act, a veteran is deemed (subject to certain conditions, all of which were met in M's case) to have been paid wages of $160 in each month during any part of which he served in the active military service of the United States after September 15, 1940, and before 1957. Such military service wage credits are added to any wages or self-employment income with which the veteran is otherwise credited.
Thus, section 217(e) requires that wage credits of $160 per month for each of the months March 1951 through March 1954 be added to the actual wages credited on M's earnings record. The total military service wage credits for each of the years involved are: 1951 -- $1,600 (10 months); 1952 -- $1,920 (12 months); 1953 -- $1,920 (12 months); 1954 -- $480 (3 months). With the addition of these credits, M's earnings for social security purposes are: 1937-1950 -- none; 1951 -- $1,600; 1952 -- $1,920; 1953 -- $1,920; 1954 -- $868.50; 1955 -- $1,126.51; 1956 -- $2,238.72; 1957 -- $1,809.80; 1958 through 1962 -- none.
M's benefit computation years, the 4 years after 1950 in which his creditable earnings were highest, are thus 1952, 1953, 1956, and 1957; and his total earnings in those years are $7,888.52. This amount, when divided by 48 (the number of months in the 4 years), gives M an average monthly wage of $164.34, which amount must, under section 215(e)(2), be reduced to $164, the next lower multiple of $1. The primary insurance amount corresponding to such an average monthly wage (as determined from the table in section 215(a)) is $76.
Accordingly, it is held that M's primary insurance amount is $76. Therefore, his widow is entitled to mother's insurance benefits of $57 (three-fourth's of M's primary insurance amount) for each month beginning June 1962, and to a lump-sum death payment of #228 (i.e., the lesser of $255 or 3 times M's primary insurance amount); and his son is entitled to child's insurance benefits of $57 (i.e., three-fourth's of M's primary insurance amount) per month beginning June 1962.
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