» OIG Reveals Social Security Underpayments to Thousands of Spouses

OIG Reveals Social Security Underpayments to Thousands of Spouses

Hook Law Center (formerly Oast & Hook)

Hook Law Center (formerly Oast & Hook)

Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) May 22, 2014 – The Social Security Administration (SSA) owes thousands of Americans higher benefits, amounting to millions of dollars in total.

SSA's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) – the agency's internal watchdog – recently conducted an internal audit that revealed failures to increase some retirees' benefits properly.

“The problem lies with some retirees' receipt of spousal benefits,” explained elder law attorney Andrew Hook. “These retirees initially claimed spousal benefits, but they later became eligible for higher benefits based on their own employment. Social Security failed to notify them of that fact.”

The OIG designated two categories of underpaid beneficiaries. First are those who, at full retirement age, claimed spousal benefits, but who are now eligible for a higher payment on their own benefits due to delayed retirement credits. Second are those who claimed their benefits before full retirement age and who were given spousal benefits even though their own employment entitled them to greater benefits at that time.

The problems have resulted from an SSA failure to apply what is known as the “deemed filing provision.” The OIG claims to be highly confident that between 22,000 and 30,000 spouses are eligible for higher retirement benefits. The estimated due total is between $132 million and $258 million.

The OIG first uncovered the underpayments in a 2008 audit. It created a notification letter and asked SSA to send it to those beneficiaries who might be affected. The agency did not dispute the findings, but claimed it lacked the funds and staff to send the letter.

In its recent follow-up audit, the OIG said that SSA owes underpaid beneficiaries both higher ongoing payments and back payments. And it pointed out that because SSA already notifies widows and widowers of the possibility of greater benefits at full retirement age and again at age 70, the agency should be able to add more beneficiaries to its process.

“If you receive spousal benefits from Social Security, or if you are turning 70 and claimed Social Security at full retirement age, you may be eligible for increased benefits,” added Hook. “If you think these circumstances may apply to you, visit your Social Security office or your elder law or estate planning attorney for assistance. You should also check your Social Security work record to make sure it is complete.”

Hook Law Center
295 Bendix Road, Suite 170
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23452-1294
Phone: 757-399-7506
Fax: 757-397-1267

SUFFOLK
5806 Harbour View Blvd.
Suite 203
Suffolk VA 23435
Phone: 757-399-7506
Fax: 757-397-1267
http://www.hooklawcenter.com/

  • Dementia and Driving
    Currently, more than 5 million Americans are living with dementia, and that number is expected to increase to over 16 million by the year 2050.  While many aspects of dementia are still a mystery, the disease itself and many of its affects are familiar.  Due to the eventual impairment to memory and executive decision-making skills, […]
  • Cold or Flu – How to Tell the Difference
    Well, it’s that time of year again—cold and flu season! If you haven’t had either one, you’re extremely fortunate. Experts tell us that more than 60,000 people in the US have had the flu already this year. According to Margarita Rohr, a clinical instructor of medicine at New York University’s Langone Health, ‘This season is […]
  • Tax Rates Affected by New Tax Law
    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) resulted in major changes to the individual and corporate income tax rates that take effect January 1, 2018. Rate changes for individuals. Individuals are subject to income tax on “ordinary income,” such as compensation, and most retirement and interest income, at increasing rates that apply to different ranges of […]
  • The Problems Associated with Joint Bank Accounts
    It is not uncommon for clients to come into the office with bank and brokerage accounts held jointly with another. The common explanation received for such titling is to enable the joint account holder to handler the individual’s personal affairs. One of the most important things an estate planning or elder law attorney can do […]
  • With Tax Time Fast Approaching
    How Long Should You Keep Your Records? With tax time fast approaching, what a better time to clean out those file cabinets. But how long should you keep your documents? Below are some recommendations and general guidelines. Taxes  Typically, you should keep your federal income tax returns and supporting documentation for at least seven years. […]

See other news sources publishing this article. BETA | Tags: , , , , ,



Get headlines from Law Firm Newswire sent right to your inbox.

* indicates required