SSR 69-13: SECTIONS 202(a), 202(b), 202(k), and 202(q). -- WIFE'S INSURANCE BENEFIT -- SIMULTANEOUS ENTITLEMENT OF WIFE TO OLD-AGE INSURANCE BENEFITS -- BENEFIT AMOUNT
20 CFR 404.305, 404.315, and 404.407
- The worker became entitled, at age 62, to old-age insurance benefits, reduced pursuant to section 202(q) of the Social Security Act because of her early retirement. Subsequently, in January 1967, her husband's old-age insurance benefit was increased to an amount which was more than twice the amount of her own old-age insurance benefit and, accordingly, she then became eligible for wife's insurance benefits. In June 1967, she filed an application for wife's insurance benefits. Held, since the worker had established entitlement to consecutive reductions: the first, as provided by section 202(q)(3) of the Act, being the amount by which her old-age benefit was reduced because of her pre-age 65 retirement; and the second, as provided by section 202(k)(3)(A) of the Act, being the amount of her old-age benefit.
R, a woman, filed application and became entitled to an old-age insurance benefit beginning with April 1957, the month she attained age 62. Since R had not at the time of her application reached age 65, the retirement age, it had been necessary to reduce her primary insurance amount of $47.90 by 36 (the number of months between ages 62 and 65) times five-ninths of one percent, as required by section 202(q)(1) of the Act, in order to determine the amount of her old-age insurance benefit. Thus, her monthly benefit was determined to be $38.40. By January 1967, amendments to the Act had increased her primary insurance amount to $55 and her monthly benefit to $44.80.
Section 202(q), referred to in the above-cited section of the Act, relates to the reduction of old-age, disability, wife's, husband's, widow's, or widower's insurance benefit amounts under certain conditions. As applicable here, sections 202(q)(1)(A) and 202(q)(1)(B) provide for the reduction of old-age benefits, if an individual is entitled to old-age benefits in a month before the month in which he attained retirement age (which is defined in section 202(q)(9), as age 65 for old-age insurance benefits) by the following method:
- (A) 5/9 of 1 percent of such amount if such benefit is an old-age * * * insurance benefit, * * * multiplied by
- (B) (i) the number of months in the reduction period for such benefit (determined under paragraph (6)), if such benefit is for a month before the month in which such individual attains retirement age, * * *
R's husband, H, also filed application and became entitled to an old-age insurance benefit which had been increased by recomputation and, in January 1967, was $112.40. In June 1967, R filed application for wife's insurance benefits as H's wife and was awarded a payment of $1.20 a month effective January 1967. R contended, however, that she should be paid a monthly benefit equal to one-half that of H, which as of January 1967, would be $56.20. (Prior to January 1967, H's primary insurance amount was only $87.80 and, since R's primary insurance amount ($55) had exceeded one-half of that amount, she could not be entitled to wife's insurance benefits before such month. Section 202(b)(1)(E) of the Act).
The question thus presented is whether R, who was simultaneously entitled to more than one monthly benefit, was paid the highest possible amount as a wife.
The requirements for entitlement to old-age benefits are contained in section 202(a) of the Act, which provides that every individual who has attained age 62, is fully insured and has filed an application for old-age insurance benefits, shall be entitled to an old-age insurance benefit for each month, equal to his primary insurance amount, except as provided in section 202(q) of the Act.
The requirements for entitlement to wife's insurance benefits are set forth in section 202(b) of the Act, which provides, among other requirements and as pertinent here, that where an individual is entitled to wife's insurance benefits the amount of the benefit shall be equal to one-half of the primary insurance amount of her husband except as provided in section 202(q) of the Act.
As to reduction of wife's insurance benefits, section 202(q)(3)(A) and (B) provides as pertinent to this case:
- (3) (A) If the first month for which an individual both is entitled to a wife's * * * insurance benefit and has attained age 62 * * * is a month for which such individual is also entitled to --
- (i) an old-age insurance benefit (to which such individual was first entitled for a month before he attains age 65), * * * then in lieu of any reduction under paragraph (1) (but subject to the succeeding paragraphs of this subsection) such wife's * * * insurance benefit for each month shall be reduced as provided in subparagraph (B), (C), or (D).
- (B) For any month for which such individual is entitled to an old-age insurance benefit and is not entitled to a disability insurance benefit, such individual's wife's * * * insurance benefit shall be reduced by the sum of --
- (i) the amount by which such old-age insurance benefit is reduced under paragraph (1) for such month, * * *.
Under section 202(q)(6), the "reduction period" for an individual's old-age insurance benefit is the period beginning with the first day of the first month for which such individual is entitled to such benefit, and ending with the last day of the month before the month in which the individual attains retirement age.
In addition to the foregoing, section 202(k)(3)(A) imposes a further reduction on payment by the following:
- (3) (A) If an individual is entitled to an old-age * * * insurance benefit for any month and to any other monthly insurance benefit for such month, such other insurance benefit for such month, after any reduction under subsection (q) [section 202(q)] and any reduction under section 203(a), shall be reduced, but not below zero, by an amount equal to such old-age * * * insurance benefit (after reduction under such subsection (q) [section 202(q)]).
As noted above, pertinent provisions of the Act provide for two consecutive reductions in the case of an individual who became entitled to old-age insurance benefits prior to age 65 and later to wife's insurance benefits. As indicated by section 202(q)(3) of the Act, the wife's insurance benefit must first be reduced by the sum by which her old-age insurance benefit was reduced under section 202(q)(1) of the Act. Since R's primary insurance amount in January 1967 was $55 and had been reduced to $44.80 due to early retirement, resulting in a reduction of $10.20 ($55 minus $44.80), this same amount must be subtracted from the wife's insurance benefit of $56.20, leaving a benefit of $46 ($56.20 minus $10.20).
However, a further reduction must be made since section 202(k)(3)(A) provides that if an individual is entitled to an old-age benefit for any month and to any other monthly insurance benefit for such month, the other insurance benefit after the reduction under section 202(q), supra, shall be reduced by an amount equal to the old-age benefit amount. In this case, the wife's insurance benefit is "[an] other monthly insurance benefit" and, therefore, the amount of R's old-age benefit, i.e., $44.80, must be subtracted from the $46 which represents her wife's insurance benefit. Such subtraction results in $1.20, which is the amount of wife's insurance benefit which can be paid to R.
Accordingly, since R is entitled as of January 1967 to an old-age insurance benefit of $44.80, it is held that R is also entitled as of January 1967 to $1.20 per month as a wife, which is payable in addition to her old-age insurance benefit of $44.80; thus, she is entitled to a monthly benefit total of $46.