Woman surprised to find death benefit in account

The Ombudsman was contacted by a woman who was finishing rehabilitation for a serious hip and leg fracture. When she was undergoing surgery for the injury, her husband unexpectedly died from a heart attack. The husband was the wage earner in the family. The initial contact to the Ombudsman Office was for assistance in obtaining the $225 death benefit from Social Security to assist the woman in her transition back to her home.

The Ombudsman contacted the Social Security Administration on the woman’s behalf. The Death Benefit of $255 is paid to the surviving spouse of a wage-earner who died having all of his quarters paid into Social Security. The payment of $255 had already been made into the woman’s checking account. Because that happened at the height of her surgery, hospitalization and subsequent move to the rehabilitation facility, the woman was not aware it had been received into her account.

The Ombudsman also had some difficult news to give to the woman about her widow’s benefits. The couple had been married over 16 years, and so she met the requirements of the Social Security Administration for the duration of their marriage. However, widow’s benefits are payable at age 60, and the woman who contacted the Ombudsman was 59. She is not eligible for widow’s benefits until February of 2017 when she reaches age 60. The woman had already applied for Social Security Disability benefits on her own Social Security Number and that application is pending.

The woman was ready to leave the rehabilitation facility and return to her own home. However, she did not have a steady source of income. Her husband did leave an antique sport car, which the woman sold to a collector to have income until she obtained work.

The Ombudsman Column, a production of the Joint Office of Citizens' Complaints, summarizes selected problems that citizens have had with government services, schools and nursing homes in the Dayton area. Contact the Ombudsman by writing to the Beerman Building, 11 W. Monument Avenue, Suite 606, Dayton 45402, or telephone (937) 223-4613, or by electronic mail at ombudsman@dayton-ombudsman.org or like us on Facebook at "Dayton Ombudsman Office."