Joan Entmacher
Vice President for Family Economic Security, National Women’s Law Center

Social Security is especially important to older women, particularly widows. Most poor elderly women are widows. Social Security survivor benefits help to bridge the transition to widowhood, but the benefits are less adequate when both the husband and wife had worked at low pay. Strengthening Social Security Benefits for Widow(er) s: The 75 Percent Combined Worker Benefit Alternative proposes to increase benefits for widowed spouses of low-earning dual-earner couples. The new widowed-spouse benefit would be 75 percent of the combined retired-worker benefits of the husband and the wife, but would be capped to not exceed the benefit for one person who had earned the average wage over a career.

Click here to download the full policy proposal developed as part of the project, Strengthening Social Security for Vulnerable Groups.

The project was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation’s Campaign for American Workers.

Posted on: April 13, 2009

Keywords: Social Security


  1. Patricia Fanning September 25, 2014 at 12:00 am - Reply

    Im a 66 yr old widow
    Im a 66 yr old widow currently collecting my own SS Benefits plus widows benefits from my deceased husband.

    If I should choose to remarry, someone who is also on Social Security, will I lose my current widows benefits?


  2. maxine potter March 15, 2017 at 10:05 am - Reply

    If my income is $969.and my
    If my income is $969.and my fiance is $1800 would there be any financial benefit to getting married . What happens if he dies in a couple yrs ?

  3. shirley bodnar November 2, 2017 at 9:00 am - Reply

    my husband took early
    my husband took early soc.sec. at age 64 on his own income. I took early at 62 on my own income. He collected for almost 2 yrs. My birthday is in Aug. and my soc.sec. check would begin coming. He suddenly died that very Aug. My question is : I receive some of my soc.sec. and for widows. If I remarry I will probably lose the widows benefit but because I retired on my soc.sec. and not his am I still able to claim on my new husbands soc. sec.? Also he is a widower and how will this affect his soc. sec. ?

  4. Kris July 24, 2018 at 10:00 am - Reply

    My husband is 55 years old ,
    My husband is 55 years old , and is terminally ill. He is receiveing SSI currently. When he passed will I be able to receive any supplemental income. I currently work,but I do not make very much money to support myself without my husbands income. Any information would be helpful.



  5. Elaine September 25, 2018 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    My husband died 8 yrs ago I
    My husband died 8 yrs ago I am 62. Can I get his social security until I retire? How do I do this?

  6. admin September 27, 2018 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    Hello, thank you for your
    Hello, thank you for your comments. You might check out the Social Security Administration’s website for information related to your unique benefits situation.

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