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The Impact of Changes in Couples' Earnings on Married Women's Social Security Benefits

Publication Date: February 02, 2012
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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 MINT model 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. Most wives will still be eligible for survivor benefits because they typically have lower earnings than their husbands. The share of wives who would be ineligible for widow benefits is projected to double between cohorts.

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