The Impact of Changes in Couples’ Earnings on Married Women’s Social Security Benefits
Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 72, No. 1, pp. 1-9, 2012
9 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2012 Last revised: 25 Apr 2015
Date Written: February 1, 2012
Women's labor force participation and earnings dramatically increased after World War II. Those changes have important implications for women's Social Security benefits. This article uses the Social Security Administration's Modeling Income in the Near Term (version 6) to examine Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiary wives. The projections show that fewer wives in more recent birth cohorts will be eligible for auxiliary benefits as spouses because their earnings are too high. If their husbands die, however, most wives will still be eligible for survivor benefits because, despite the increase in their earnings over time, they still typically have lower earnings than their husbands. Even so, the share of wives who would be ineligible for widow benefits is projected to double between cohorts.
Keywords: Aged couples, Social Security, pensions, economic well-being
JEL Classification: D31, H55, I3, J14, J26, J32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation