SSR 79-36


PURPOSE: To state policy permitting the payment of monthly benefits to divorced husbands, a new category of beneficiary.

CITATIONS (AUTHORITY): The U.S. District Court decision -- Oliver vs. Califano, in the Northern District of California, June 24, 1977, Civil Action No. C-76-2397 SC; Sections 202(b) and 216(d)(1) of the Social Security Act; Regulations No. 4, sections 404.331-404.333.

PERTINENT HISTORY: The Social Security Act provides for wife's benefit payments for the divorced wife of a retired or disabled worker entitled to benefits, if she meets certain requirements. There is no provision in the Act for paying benefits to the divorced husband of a retired or disabled worker.

On June 24, 1977, the U.S. District Court, in Oliver vs. Califano, ruled that the law is discriminatory in paying divorced wives' benefits and not paying divorced husbands' benefits, citing the Wiesenfeld and Goldfarb Supreme Court decisions. Since the Oliver decision was not appealed, it must be implemented. Therefore, the court decision establishes divorced husbands as a new type of beneficiary, with requirements for entitlement which parallel those that apply to divorced wives.

POLICY STATEMENT: A divorced husband is defined as a man who was married to the female wage earner for 20 years (10 years for entitlement after 1978) immediately before the date the divorce became effective. To qualify for benefits, the claimant must be the divorced husband of a worker entitled to retirement or disability benefits, file an application, be unmarried, have attained age 62, and not be entitled to a Retirement Insurance Benefit (RIB) or Disability Insurance Benefit (DIB) based on a Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) which equals or exceeds one-half the PIA of his former wife.

A divorced husband's benefits end if he dies, his former wife dies or her entitlement to DIB or RIB ends, he marries someone other than his former wife (except if he marries a woman entitled to widow's, parent's, or childhood disability benefits), or he becomes entitled to a RIB or DIB based on a PIA which equals or exceeds « the PIA of his former wife.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Since this change results from the operation of the class action order in the Oliver case, individuals whose claims were denied after August 28, 1976, and individuals who file an application after that date, will, if the other conditions of entitlement are met, be eligible for the 12 months preceding the month in which the application is filed.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Final regulations covering these policies were published in the Federal Register on June 15, 1979, at 44 FR 34479.

CROSS REFERENCES: Claims Manual sections T265-T275.

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