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Higher Retirement Benefits Payable to Families of Disabled Beneficiaries

February 02, 2016

Office Affiliation: The Office of Audit

Audit Report Number: A-09-14-34080

The Social Security Act provides monthly benefits to retired and/or disabled workers and their families. Disabled beneficiaries may be simultaneously entitled to disability and retirement benefits when they attain age 62. Generally, the higher benefits are payable; however, disabled beneficiaries may elect retirement benefits even when the disability benefits are higher. This may occur when there are entitled spouse and child beneficiaries and the total family benefits are higher under the retirement maximum provisions. SSA employees must determine whether total family benefits would be higher if a disabled beneficiary elected reduced retirement benefits.

Our objective was to determine whether the SSA had adequate controls to inform disabled beneficiaries when total family benefits would be higher if a disabled wage earner elected reduced retirement benefits. This occurred because, under the family maximum provisions, the retirement family maximum benefit is usually higher than the disability family maximum benefit.

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