May 15, 2002
House Passes H.R. 4069, Social Security Benefit Enhancements for Women Act of 2002
On May 14, 2002, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4069, the Social Security Benefit Enhancements for Women Act of 2002, by a vote of 418 to 0. The bill will now be referred to the Senate for consideration. The bill contains the following provisions:
Repeal of 7-year restriction on eligibility for widow(er)'s benefits based on disability
Would eliminate the 7-year deadline before which a widow(er) must become disabled in order to qualify for disabled widow(er)'s benefits, effective for benefits for months after November 2002. (Under current law, the widow(er)'s disability must begin before the end of the 7?year period following (1) the worker's death, (2) the last month he or she received mother's/father's benefits on the worker's record, or (3) the last month in which a previous entitlement to disabled widow(er)'s benefits terminated because disability had ceased.)
Waive the Duration-of-Divorce Requirement in Certain Cases
Would waive the 2-year duration of divorce requirement for eligibility to divorced spouse benefits in cases where the worker has married someone other than the claimant within the 2-year period, effective for benefits for months after November 2002. Entitlement could occur as early as the month after the month in which the subsequent marriage occurs. In addition, effective for months after November 2002, the 2-year duration of divorce requirement would also be waived in these situations for the purpose of applying the annual earnings test to the benefits of a divorced spouse based upon the worker's earnings.
Increase the Widow(er)'s Limit
Would increase the widow(er)'s limit by excluding from the number of reduction months those months for which the worker did not receive benefits before the full retirement age because of his or her death, effective for benefits for months after November 2002. SSA would have to recompute the benefits for persons entitled to widow(er)'s benefits for December 2002.