They had married in December of 1953 and built a great life together.
Betty and Ralph Mauro had five children, adopted two more and celebrated the arrival of every one of their ten grandchildren. But the story of their lives together came to an end on May 27th. After years of declining health, Betty passed away.
“Towards the end, I would say the last three or four months that wasn’t my wife. She was on her way with Alzheimer. The poor thing suffered so much”, said Ralph.
The transition not been easy for Ralph. After nearly 62-years of marriage, he’s now about the business of giving away Betty’s clothing, passing along her possessions to the kids and setting up his new life without Betty.
Before the marker was ready for Betty’s spot at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Ralph got a letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA). It offered condolences on his loss.
It also contained a bill for $909.00.
Before the marker was ready for his late wife’s grave, Ralph Mauro got a letter asking for the return of her May benefits check. (Photo: Ralph Mauro)
Betty had not lived through all of May. The monthly benefit check would need to be refunded to the agency.
Ralph figured there was some sort of mix-up. So, he called the local Social Security office in Buffalo, only to be told again, this time by phone, he would have to pay-back the May benefits check for his late wife.
“Whoever wrote this is stupid,” said Mauro, “That nine-hundred dollars is my money.”
But that is the law. A regional spokesman for the SSA notes benefits are not paid in a month where a beneficiary dies. To receive a monthly benefit check, that person must live the entire month. But the agency admits is does not do public outreach to help spouses and family members better understand the law.
“Social Security is not an entitlement. I paid for that. That’s my money,” said Ralph Mauro after being told he’d have to pay back his late wife’s May benefits check. (Photo: Dave Harrington/WGRZ)
When 2 On-Your-Side contacted US Senator Chuck Schumer about SSA’s policy he said, “No family should have to sift through paperwork with a fine toothed comb to find critical information.”
Fortunately for Mauro, he has money set aside to absorb this financial blow.
Mauro said, “I’m worried more about people who can’t afford it…and they’re looking forward to that.”
I have been told many times that they do not do this, and I know different when a friend of mine died and I had to take care of his estate. There were final bills to be paid and they immediately took the money back out of his account.
This is the kinder gentler GUVMENT we have these days.