Social Security:

Issues Involving Benefit Equity for Working Women

HEHS-96-55: Published: Apr 10, 1996. Publicly Released: Apr 10, 1996.

Contact:

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined whether married women and widows were being treated fairly under the Social Security system, focusing on: (1) how economic and demographic trends may affect women's future benefits; and (2) past proposals that have addressed these concerns.

GAO noted that: (1) the Social Security Act is gender neutral when it comes to awarding individual retirement benefits; (2) women are more likely to qualify for spousal and survivor benefits and experience dual entitlement limits because of their lower lifetime earnings and longer life expectancies; (3) the monthly benefits for a two-earner couple are one-third less than those of a one-earner couple with the same demographics and lifetime earnings; (4) the survivor of a one-earner couple receives 67 percent of the total benefits received when both spouses were alive; (5) the survivor of a two-earner couple can receive between 50 percent and 67 percent of combined pre-death benefits; (6) a retired married person is often eligible for larger benefits as a spouse or survivor than as a retired worker; (7) an individual's retirement contributions do not necessarily increase his retirement benefits, but may provide disability coverage and family survivor coverage; (8) people with lower lifetime earnings and fewer Social Security contributions receive more Social Security benefits; (9) the issue of benefit fairness is likely to become more widespread as women spend more time in the workforce and increase their earnings; (10) the earnings sharing proposal combines the covered earnings of a husband and wife for each year that the couple is married and credits half of the combined total to each spouse's Social Security earnings; (11) the double-decker plan provides a flat-rate benefit for qualified beneficiaries and a proportional plan based on beneficiaries' lifetime covered earnings; and (12) SSA has not changed the way it administers retirement benefits because of the potential program costs, inequity issues, and administrative burdens.

Mar 5, 2014

Feb 26, 2014

Dec 27, 2013

Dec 17, 2013

Dec 16, 2013

Nov 5, 2013

Sep 23, 2013

Sep 11, 2013

Jul 16, 2013

Jun 5, 2013

Looking for more? Browse all our products here