SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home732. How Adjustment for Family Maximum is Figured

732.1 How is the adjustment for the family maximum calculated?

The adjustment for the family maximum is made by proportionately reducing all the monthly benefits subject to the family maximum on the Social Security earnings record (except for retired worker's or disabled worker's benefits). All benefits subject to the family maximum are reduced in order to bring the total monthly benefits payable within the limit for the particular case. (See §731 for other exceptions.)

732.2 How is the individual reduced benefit computed if the insured person is alive?

To compute the reduced benefit for an insured living person, we:

  1. Subtract his or her PIA subtracted from the applicable family maximum amount; and

  2. Divide any remainder among the other persons entitled to benefits on his or her Social Security earnings record.

732.3 How is the individual reduced benefit computed if the insured person is deceased?

If the insured person is deceased, the formula used depends upon the percentage of PIA that monthly benefits are based on:

  1. If all monthly benefits are based on the same percentage (e.g., all are based on 100 percent of the PIA, or all are based on 75 percent), then the family maximum is divided equally among all those who are entitled to benefits on the Social Security earnings record; or

  2. Some benefits may be based on 100 percent, some on 82 and 1/2 percent, and/or others on 75 percent. In cases where benefits are not based on the same percentage of PIA, each beneficiary is paid a proportionate share of the family maximum based on that beneficiary's original benefit rate.

732.4 When is the adjustment for the family maximum made?

This adjustment is made after any deductions that may be applicable. It occurs when reduction for the family maximum is required, and a benefit payable to someone other than the worker must be withheld. Redistributing for the maximum is made as if the beneficiary whose benefit must be withheld were not entitled to the amounts withheld.

Note: The total benefits payable to the family group are not necessarily reduced when monthly benefits are not payable to one member of the family group.

The following example illustrates the following: (1) the initial adjustment of benefit rates for the family maximum; (2) the readjustment of rates when benefits are not payable to one beneficiary; and (3) the readjustment of rates when benefits are not payable to two beneficiaries.

The PIA is $300.60 and maximum family benefits are $535.10. The insured person is entitled to retirement insurance benefits.

Beneficiary

Original Benefit

Adjusted for the Maximum

Adjustment When Benefits not Payable to One Child

Adjustment When Benefits not Payable to Two Children

Insured person

$300.60

$300.60

$300.60

$300.60

Spouse

150.30

58.60

78.10

117.20

First child

150.30

58.60

78.10

117.20

Second child

150.30

58.60

78.10

0.00

Third child

150.30

58.60

0.00

0.00

Total

$901.80

$535.00

$534.90

$535.00

Last Revised: Sep. 22, 2003