SSR 64-8

In August 1962, the worker was reported missing in action while on active duty with the United States Air Force. In November 1962, the Air Force determined that he had died August 28, 1962, and paid his widow all pay which had accrued to the worker. The widow and a minor child became entitled to survivor's benefits on the worker's earning record. Held, the accrued amount paid by the Air Force after the worker's death is creditable to his social security account, as wages of the worker paid in the year he died, for purposes of computing the amount of survivor's benefits.

The worker, G, while on active duty in the United States Air Force, was reported missing in action on August 26, 1962. He was carried on the rolls of his unit as missing until November 1962, when the Air Force determined that he had died on August 28, 1962, and paid to his widow the accrued pay (minus appropriate social security and income tax deductions) due the worker. The widow filed application November 30, 1962, on G's earnings record for mother's insurance benefits for herself, and for child's insurance benefits on behalf of their minor daughter. In connection with these claims, the Air Force certified to the Social Security Administration as wages of G paid in 1962 (pursuant to section 205(p) of the Social Security Act) an amount which included all accrued pay; the certification showed that the accrued amount was paid November 27, 1962, to the widow.

The widow and child meet all requirements for entitlement to the monthly benefits claimed, beginning August 1962, the month in which G died. Under sections 202(g) and (d) of the Act, a mother's and a child's insurance benefit on a deceased worker's earnings record are each equal to three-fourths of the worker's primary insurance amount.

Under section 215 of the Social Security Act, the primary insurance amount depends upon a worker's average monthly wage; and in computing the average monthly wage for purposes of survivor's benefits, wages paid in the year of death must be used if evidence available at the time of computation shows that such wages would increase the primary insurance amount.

The question in this case is whether that portion of G's 1962 wages which was paid after his death to his widow, is includible as wages paid in 1962 for purposes of computing G's average monthly wage. If so, G's total wages for 1962 will be sufficiently high to increase the primary insurance amount and, therefore, the benefits to which the widow and daughter are entitled.

"Wages" are defined in section 209 as remuneration for employment, and "employment" is defined in section 210 as service performed by an employee for his employer (both definitions being subject to exceptions not pertinent here). The fact that an employee's death intervenes between his performance of services and the payment of remuneration for such services does not prevent such remuneration from being wages. The provisions of section 215, dealing with computation of a worker's average monthly wage and primary insurance amount, do not limit wages which may be used in such computation to those wages paid to the worker personally or to those paid before his death. Under this section, a worker's wages paid in the year of his death are includible for purposes of computing the amount of any survivor benefit, regardless of whether they were paid before or after his death, or (as in the present case) after the calendar quarter in which the worker died.

Accordingly, it is held that G's wages paid in 1962, including the accrued amount paid after his death, and within the year of his death, may be included in computing G's primary insurance amount and the amounts of the mother's and child's insurance benefits.

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