Social Security is a complex program, making its benefits hard to understand. In fact, the rules are so complicated that the Social Security Administration recently found that its own staff weren't giving recipients all the benefits to which they were entitled.

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, runs through the SSA's audit, which found that thousands of spouses weren't informed when they would have qualified for higher benefits based on their own work history compared to the spousal benefits they were claiming. Dan notes that although the SSA had a notification process for widowed spouses, it didn't follow the same process for couples in which both spouses were still alive. With 26,000 spouses missing out on $195 million in benefits, the issue was big enough to drive change at the SSA. Yet Dan points out that you really have to look out for your own benefits to make sure you get what you deserve.

Dan Caplinger and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.