Social Security Benefits for Spouses and Survivors: Elements, Considerations, and Adjustments

Juliana Lawrence (Editor)

Series: Health Care in Transition



Volume 10

Issue 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Special issue: Resilience in breaking the cycle of children’s environmental health disparities
Edited by I Leslie Rubin, Robert J Geller, Abby Mutic, Benjamin A Gitterman, Nathan Mutic, Wayne Garfinkel, Claire D Coles, Kurt Martinuzzi, and Joav Merrick


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Social Security auxiliary benefits were established in 1939 when Congress extended benefits to the dependents and survivors of workers covered by Social Security. Since 1939, Social Security auxiliary benefits have been modified by Congress numerous times to change eligibility requirements for spouses, widows, children, and others and to expand eligibility for auxiliary benefits to new groups of beneficiaries, such as divorcé(e)s, husbands, and widowers.

This book describes the current-law structure of auxiliary benefits for spouses, divorced spouses, and surviving spouses. It also discusses some of the issues concerning the adequacy and equity of the current-law structure of auxiliary benefits, and presents some recent proposals. The book also explains how the Social Security Retirement Earnings Test (RET) works under current law. In addition, it provides benefit examples to illustrate the effect of the RET on Social Security beneficiaries who are below FRA and family members who receive benefits based on their work records. It also briefly discusses policy issues, including recent research on the effect of the RET on work effort and the decision to claim Social Security benefits. (Imprint: Nova)


Chapter 1 - Social Security: Revisiting Benefits for Spouses and Survivors (pp. 1-52)
Alison M. Shelton and Dawn Nuschler

Chapter 2 - Social Security Retirement Earnings Test: How Earnings Affect Benefits (pp. 53-86)
Dawn Nuschler and Alison M. Shelton

Chapter 3 - Social Security: The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) (pp. 87-96)
Christine Scott

Chapter 4 - Social Security: The Government Pension Offset (GPO) (pp. 97-118)
Gary Sidor


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