A recent audit reveals the Social Security Administration has underpaid widowed spouses

The agency failed to tell widowed spouses that they could claim survivor benefits while still delaying their own benefits until age 70

Jon VoglerTime to read: 2 min

A full 82% of widows and widowers entitled to Social Security spousal benefits are being underpaid, according to a new audit report prepared by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Social Security Administration (SSA).

It turns out that the SSA has failed to tell widowed spouses that they could claim survivor benefits while still delaying their own benefits until age 70. This is an important distinction: Retirement benefits increase by 8% per year for every year they are delayed beyond full retirement age up to age 70. Survivor benefits do not.

While it is up to eligible claimants to determine whether they want to take benefits before age 70, “SSA needs to improve controls to ensure it informs [widowed] beneficiaries of their option to delay their application for retirement benefits,” the audit found.

What the audit uncovered

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Social Security: No news isn’t good news

A new report confirms the status quo, meaning benefit cuts loom large unless D.C. acts

Jon VoglerThe Social Security Board of Trustees recently released its 2017 report outlining the projected future of the program. Unsurprisingly, the landscape has not changed much since last year, meaning significant cuts to benefits may be necessary unless Washington can agree on some solutions in the coming years.

When might Social Security reserves run out?

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