Apr 21, 2016

Underpayments To Widows And Widowers

     From a recent report by Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG):
SSA needs to improve its controls to ensure it establishes the correct PIA [Primary Insurance Amount, the basis for computing how much a claimant is to be paid] for widow(er)s when deceased wage earners die before age 62. Based on our random sample, we estimated that SSA underpaid approximately $224 million to 25,309 widow(er)s....
     Social Security agreed that they need to do something about this problem.
     The thing that gets me is that if this report had said that claimants were being overpaid by $224 million, the House Social Security Subcommittee would hold a hearing and grill Social Security officials. They would insinuate that fraud must be involved. However, when it's $224 million in underpayments I'm sure the reaction will be "Meh."
     Overpayments and underpayments are both important. They deserve equal treatment.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ironic. You would think politicians would be scrambling over each other for a chance to be seen as helping poor widows.

Anonymous said...

Its no longer a good thing to help the poor, aging, disabled, or minority. These are the days of One for One and all for ME! You thought the 80s were greedy!

Anonymous said...

Sad but true. Tea party would probably fund an effort to unseat anyone with the gall to publicly announce support for their needy low-income constituents.

Anonymous said...

It's not that difficult to get that payment correct for a CR. If the computer won't give a PIA via MCS, one just needs to request an estimate with the date of birth for the widow in the appropriate field. I am guessing in all of these cases the CR just used the MBR PIA for the deceased individual instead of running the comp to get the WINDEX PIA. I see it happen from newer CRs and ones that never learned comps in my office.

Anonymous said...

Well, $224 million sounds like a lot of money, but is it? I'm all for paying people what they deserve, but why can't reports like this give meaningful numbers? From the numbers given in the quote, the average is $8850 per widow(er). But over what time period is this? If this is over 20 years, that's $37/month, but it says the widow(er)s in the sample were currently being paid, so maybe they have been on Social Security an average of 10 years, which would mean they are underpaid by $74/month, which is a much bigger deal. The report also says that 14% of the sample is being underpaid. So why not state that 14% of widow(er)s were underpaid an average of $X/month, which is Y% of their benefits. That's a lot more meaningful than $224 million to 25,309 widow(er)s.

Anonymous said...

This is not a complex computation, basic WIB comp. However if the staffing is not in place to provide adequate training and quality reviews, no computation is "basic". The problem is that the resources are not there.