husband since 1913. The record indicates that he was living in San Francisco and, although "remarried", had never obtained a divorce from the plaintiff. On February 3, 1956, plaintiff filed an application for old-age insurance benefits based on her own earnings under account number 164-07-5520. The application was filed in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania office of the Social Security Administration. In response to question 3(a) of the application plaintiff represented that she was not married. On the basis of the application filed she was awarded old-age benefits in the amount of $69.60 per month commencing in February 1956. This amount was increased to $75.00 per month in 1958 and later increased to $80.30 per month in 1965.
On October 27, 1957, plaintiff's estranged husband died. On February 24, 1958, with the aid of an attorney, plaintiff applied for survivors insurance benefits as the unremarried widow of her late husband. The application was made to the San Francisco, California office of the Social Security Administration under the account number of the deceased, Don H. Horner, 553-10-7537-D. In response to question number 22 on the application form asking, "Have you or any children listed in item 14 ever had a social security account number?", the notation "None" was entered. Thereafter plaintiff was awarded widow's benefits in the amount of $73.90 per month commencing in October 1957. In 1961 the benefits were increased to $86.70 per month and thereafter to $92.80 per month in 1965.
The checks plaintiff received for her old-age allowance benefits were mailed from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, whereas, the checks she received as the unremarried widow of Don H. Horner were mailed from San Francisco, California. Had either or both applications for benefits been completed accurately, the Social Security Administration would have been in a position to prevent any overpayments.
Concerning the interrelationship between an individual's eligibility for both old-age insurance benefits and unremarried widow's benefits the Social Security Act and regulations are clear. Section 202(e)(1)(E) of the Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 402(e)(1)(E) and § 404.353 of the Regulations, 20 C.F.R. § 404.353, provide that a woman who is simultaneously eligible to receive both old-age insurance benefits on her own earnings record and widow's insurance benefits on her deceased husband's earnings record shall receive no more than the greater of the benefits. Section 404.407 of the Regulations, 20 C.F.R. § 404.407, provides that she will receive monthly the amount of her old-age benefit, plus any difference between that and her widow's benefit. She is, therefore, entitled to receive one check each month for the larger amount but not the full benefits from both individual earnings records.
As a consequence of the misleading information submitted by the plaintiff in both application forms, she received overpayments from the Social Security Administration in the amount of $9,259. The receipt of these overpayments is not contested. Plaintiff objects to the government's withholding of all future old-age and widow's benefits until the amount of the overpayments made is recovered. In situations of this nature section 204(b) of the Act provides:
"In any case in which more than the correct amount of payment has been made, there shall be no adjustment of payments to, or recovery by the United States from, any person who is without fault if such adjustment or recovery would defeat the purpose of this subchapter or would be against equity and good conscience." (Emphasis added.)