I'm trying to help my dad get his Social Security retirement stuff figured out. He waited until a couple months before he was 62 and found out that he could have been getting widower's benefits since he was 60.

The question is, is he eligible for back pay at all since he was eligible at 60 but unaware of that? He asked about this with a Social Security representative during an interview and was flatly told no but I found information that seems to say otherwise, but I don't know enough to know if I'm correct.

This page: https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200204030

Section D.2.b:

Widow(er)’s benefit amount is based on RIB-LIM

We allow retroactivity up to 6 months if we base the widow(er)’s benefit amount for both the month of filing and the month of election (MOEL) on the RIB-LIM. For more information on the RIB-LIM, see RS 00615.320.

I tried checking out the document it references but all these acronyms leave me rather useless and google is inundated by results that are relevant to disability not retirement. Any help would be appreciated.

  • You may want to talk to a lawyer. Also was the worker understood properly? Where they saying that he could not go back until 60, but perhaps the 6 months is permissible?
    – Pete B.
    Oct 3, 2017 at 12:43
  • A general tip when dealing with bureaucracy (government or otherwise): the person manning the phones may not have all the answers, and getting "yes" / "no" responses in writing, where possible, will hold up better for future scrutiny. In this case, if you have information that suggests you can file retroactively, don't let one phone-line response dishearten you. At a bare minimum, calling again and getting a different person's input would help. However the best solution is unfortunately that you likely need to find the answer on your own, as you are already doing. Oct 3, 2017 at 17:25
  • RIB-LIM is retirement insurance benefit LIMited to the amount that the deceased spouse was able to claim. If the spouse filed early, before 65, their benefit is reduced. A widow or widower would be limited to that value, even if they didn't claim on the deceased person's account until they were 65 or whatever their full retirement age is. I'm not 100% on this, thus no answer.
    – mkennedy
    Oct 3, 2017 at 17:29
  • See this document.
    – mkennedy
    Oct 3, 2017 at 17:31
  • Figured out that this is specific to Title II benefits which is disability. Does not count in my dad's case. Thanks for your replies though. Oct 6, 2017 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


Found that this document is specific to Title II disability benefits and does not apply to retirement benefits at all.

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