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Social Security
Means to Women

Women's Bureau


James P. Mitchell, Secretary
Mrs. Alice K. Leopold, Director

T H I S PAMPHLET is issued by the Women's Bureau of
the United States Department of Labor for the convenience of the millions of women who have a stake
in old-age and survivors insurance, either through
their own earnings or those of members of their
families. The writing was done by Miriam Keeler
of the Division of Program Planning, Analysis, and
Reports, of which Anna Jo W. Behrens is Chief.
Grateful acknowledgment is made to the Bureau of
Old-Age and Survivors Insurance of the Social
Security Administration, Department of Health,
Education, and Welfare, whose technical experts reviewed the manuscript and whose liaison officer was
always available for consultation.















What work is covered?
When is a person insured?
How are earnings credited?
What benefits are provided?
How are average earnings
What if a woman stops work?
When is a disabled person eligible for benefits?. .
What is the age of retirement for women? . . . .



SINCE 1 9 5 0

Professional workers
Industrial home workers
Practical nurses
Household workers
Farmworkers and farmers


Employed women
Self-employed women
Working wives
Women who employ others
Women who support others
Women dependent on insured workers
Older women









What Social Security
Means to


Women have a tremendous stake in old-age and survivors insurance.
Nearly 44 million women have accumulated insurance credits through
employment, or self-employment, in covered work in the 20 years
since the social security system came into operation. The vast majority of married women who are not wage earners are protected
through their husbands' employment, and some other women are
eligible for payments as widows or dependent parents of insured
workers. Altogether, some 4.2 million women were receiving monthly
benefits at the end of December 1956.
The amendments to the social security law enacted by Congress in
1956 greatly increased the number of women eligible for benefits at
the present time by lowering from 65 to 62 years the age at which they
may qualify. For women workers and wives of retired workers who
apply before reaching age 65, the monthly benefit is reduced. The
effect of the reduction and other points that a woman should consider
in deciding when to apply for benefits are discussed in chapter 2.
Chapter 3, on workers brought under old-age and survivors insurance since 1950, includes pertinent material from the 1956 amendments.
Social security information useful to women workers, to women employers, to women who are dependent on their husbands or on their
unmarried children, and to older women is highlighted in chapter 4.
Additional information on 1956 amendments relating to disabled
workers and children, self-employed professional workers, farmworkers, and servicemen and veterans may be obtained from the district
office of the Social Security Administration, U. S. Department of
Health, Education, and Welfare. If you do not know the address of
your nearest district office, ask at the post office or look in the telephone




book under "U. S. Government, Department of Health, Education,
and Welfare."
General information on starting and keeping a social security account and applying for benefits is given in chapter 5.

In order to know your rights under social security, you need to know
what work is covered, when you will be insured, how to earn credits,
and what happens if you stop work.

What Work Is Covered?
Any kind of work in which social security credits can be earned is
said to be "covered." Most employment in business and industrial establishments has been covered since January 1,1937. By amendments
since 1950, coverage has been extended to most farm and household
workers, self-employed people in business and agriculture, most selfemployed professional persons, members of the Armed Forces, and
certain other groups (see ch. 4).
A person working in covered employment or self-employment in
the United States can qualify for benefits whether a citizen or not.
United States citizens working abroad may or may not be covered.
It is now possible to earn old-age protection through employment
in almost any kind of work, but there are still a few important
Exceptions.—The largest groups not under social security are Federal employees whose employment is covered by a retirement system
established under some other Federal law and self-employed doctors
of medicine.
Some of the other kinds of workers not covered by the social security
law are:
Student nurses
Students employed by the school, college, or university where they are enrolled, or doing domestic work at a local college club, sorority, or fraternity
Newspaper carriers under 18 years of age
Turpentine workers
Employees of a foreign government or of an international organization entitled to certain immunities under Federal laws
Foreign nationals admitted on a temporary basis to perform agricultural




One other exception is especially important for women. A woman
who works for her husband or for a son or daughter, or a girl under
21 years of age who works for a parent, is not covered by social
A woman who has any doubt about whether her work is covered
should ask the nearest social security office.

When Is a Person Insured?
The first question women ask about old-age and survivors insurance
is usually, "How long do I need to work to become insured?" There
is no universal answer. The length of time required depends on
individual factors, such as birth and death and, in the case of a woman,
the date of her 62d birthday.
The time is counted in calendar quarters for social security purposes.
There are four calendar quarters in each year:
January, February, March
April, May, June
July, August, September
October, November, December

(first quarter)
(second quarter)
(third quarter)
(fourth quarter)

Each calendar quarter in which a worker is paid wages of at least
$50 in covered employment is a "quarter of coverage." A selfemployed person who has net earnings of $400 or more in a year gets
four quarters of coverage. A farmworker, or a household worker on
a farm operated for profit, gets one quarter of coverage for each $100
of cash wages covered by the law that she is paid in a year.
You are fully insured, generally speaking, if you have enough quarters of coverage after 1936 to equal one-half of the quarters between
December 31, 1950, and the time when you reach age 62 (age 65 for
a man) or die. You must have a minimum of 6 quarters of coverage
(iy2 years) regardless of age; and when you have 40 quarters of
coverage (10 years) acquired at any time after December 31, 1936,
you are fully insured for life.
You are currently insured if you have credit for at least 1 of the
3 years just before your retirement or death.
The chart on page 6, which lists the different types of old-age and
survivors insurance benefits, shows whether the worker must be fully
or currently insured, or both, in order for the particular type of benefit
to be payable.

How Are Earnings Credited?
Wages.—If you work in a job covered by social security, you should
receive an annual statement from your employer showing the total


amount of wages earned by you and the amount of tax withheld for
social security. You are taxed only on the first $4,200 of your pay.
In 1956, you paid 2 percent; beginning January 1, 1957, you pay 2%
percent. Periodic increases will raise the tax to 4% percent by 1975.
The employer pays an equal amount as his share of the tax and sends
the entire sum to the Director of Internal Revenue every 3 months
along with a report of the wages paid to you. Farmers report for
their farm and domestic help once a year.
Self-employment earnings.—If you are self-employed in a trade,
business, or profession covered by social security and have net earnings
of $400 or more for the year, you must report your net earnings when
you file your regular Federal income-tax return and pay the social
security tax on net earnings up to $4,200. For 1956 the self-employment tax was 3 percent; beginning January 1, 1957, it becomes 3%
percent. Periodic increases will raise it to 6% percent by 1975.
Earnings from both employment and self'employment,—If you
have both types of earnings, the employment tax (2 percent) is withheld on your wages up to the maximum of $4,200 for the year. However, if your wages are less than $4,200 and you have net earnings from
self-employment of at least $400, you must also pay the self-employment tax (3 percent) on the difference between your wages and net
earnings up to $4,200.

What Benefits Are Provided?
Four types of benefits are provided under the law: monthly retirement benefits; monthly survivor benefits; monthly disability benefits;
and the lump-sum death benefit. The chart on page 6 shows in brief
form who can qualify for these benefits and under what general conditions they are paid.
To qualify for some types of old-age and survivors insurance benefits, it is necessary to be fully insured; for others, it is only necessary
to be currently insured. For the payment of dependent husbands'
and widowers' benefits, women workers must be both currently and
fully insured. The conditions under which benefits are payable to
members of a woman worker's family are explained in chapter 4 in
the section on "Women Who Support Others."
The primary insurance amount is the monthly benefit payable to a
worker who retires at age 65 or over or to a worker who becomes entitled to disability insurance benefits between 50 and 65 years of age.
It ranges from $30 a month to $108.50 a month, depending on the
worker's average monthly earnings.




and who is entitled to them

At age

If retired worker is—

65 or over
62-64, reduced benefit
65 or over
[65 or over
162-64, reduced benefit}

woman or man, fully insured
woman, fully insured
woman, BOTH currently and fully insured
- „ .
man, fully insured

any age

man, fully insured

under 18]
any age _ J

- „ .
woman or man fully insured

Payable to—

At age—

If disabled worker is—

disabled worker

50 or over.

woman or man, both currently and fully insured,
who has 20 quarters of coverage out of the 40
before becoming disabled, and who meets
other disability conditions

Payable to—


retired worker_
dependent husband
wife, caring for child entitled to
dependent child, unmarried
. _
dependent child, unmarried, disabled before reaching 18


Payable to—•



At age—

If deceased worker was—

dependent widower
widow, caring for child entitled to
dependent child, unmarried
dependent child, unmarried, disabled
before reaching 18
dependent parent:

65 or over
62 or over
any age

woman, BOTH currently and fully insured
man, fully insured
man, fully OR currently insured

spouse living with insured worker or,
in absence of such spouse, person
paying burial expenses

under 18_.
woman or man, currently or fully insured

any age_




any age__
62 or over
65 or over


1 woman or man, fully insured and leaving neither
J spouse nor child entitled to monthly benefits

woman or man, currently OR fully insured







The primary insurance amount is shown below for average yearly
earnings of varying amounts:
yearly earnings

1, 200

insurance amount

$30. 00
55. 00

Other monthly benefits are figured from the insured worker's primary insurance amount. For example, a wife applying at age 65 or
over receives one-half of the worker's primary insurance amount; a
widow, three-fourths; and a woman worker's dependent husband receives one-half, her dependent widower, three-fourths. A child's
benefit is one-half of the worker's benefit (in the case of surviving
children, an extra one-fourth is distributed among all the children
entitled to benefits), and a dependent parent's, three-fourths.
The largest monthly payment that can be made to a family is $200.
In the case of a woman worker, for example, this maximum payment would be made if her average yearly earnings were $4,200 or
more and she died leaving three or more children, or a dependent
widower and two or more children, entitled to benefits.
The lump-sum death benefit paid to the widow or widower of an
insured worker who dies amounts to three times the worker's primary
insurance amount, with a maximum of $255. If there is no widow or
widower who was living with or receiving support from the worker,
the person who pays the burial expenses may claim reimbursement up
to the amount of the lump-sum payment.

How Are Average Earnings Figured?
Your average monthly earnings are figured from your starting
date to the year in which you reach retirement age or apply for payments. In case of your death, your average earnings would be figured
to that date. Your starting date may be January 1, 1937, or it may
be January 1, 1951, or the first day of the year in which you reached
age 22 if this is later. The date which gives you the higher benefits
is selected—for most women over 27 years of age it will be January
1,1951. You need not include the years (up to a maximum of 5 years)
when your earnings were lowest or you had no earnings. However,
you will need to include in your figuring at least 2 years—24 months—•
on which to base your average, which is obtained by dividing the total


credited earnings during the remaining period by the number of
months in that period.
The provision allowing you to "drop out" or disregard up to 5
years in estimating your average earnings is a recent amendment to
the law. It is a great help to anyone who has not worked continuously
in covered employment or self-employment. It is of special importance
to women who have returned to work, or are considering a return to
work, after a period of years devoted to family responsibilities.

What If a Woman Stops Work?
Before becoming fully insured for life.—Many women work a few
years, but not long enough to become fully insured for life. They
marry, have children, and withdraw from the labor force.
If you are one of these women, it is important for you to know
that your old-age and survivors insurance protection may lapse before you reach the age of 62 years unless you return to work. If your
protection lapses before you reach 62 or die, no benefits can be paid
either to you or to your family based on your record of work; and
you cannot get back any of the social security taxes paid on your
earnings by you and your employers. If you should return to work
at any time, even after your protection has lapsed, every quarter of
covered work you ever earned will count toward building the number
of quarters of coverage needed for status as a fully insured person.
Soon after being graduated from college, Eleanor H. got a job in the copy
department of a nationally known advertising firm. She advanced rapidly
and was a junior executive when she married and resigned. She then had
5 years of earnings credited to her social security account, between 1940
and 1945.
Eleanor's husband was a doctor of medicine with his own practice and
was not covered by social security. In 1955, he died unexpectedly. With
the idea of returning to work, Eleanor engaged a housekeeper to look after
her two school-age children. She inquired whether her previous work
would be of any value to her for social security purposes, and whether the
10 years when she earned no credits would reduce the average monthly
earnings acquired during her previous working years.
The people at the social security office pointed out that because of her
previous work, Eleanor would be insured through June 1961. If she should
die at any time before July 1961, survivor benefits would be payable to her
children under 18. Since a person needs only 10 years of covered work (40
quarters) to be permanently insured, Eleanor needed only 5 more years of
covered work to get permanent protection.
The social security people also explained that Eleanor's average earnings
would be figured either over the entire period after 1936 (not counting any
year of no earnings before she became 22), or over the period starting with


1951, depending upon which would give her the larger benefit. In either
case, 5 of the years when she had no earnings would be disregarded in computing her average earnings.
If her husband's work had been covered by social security, and if he were
insured, she and the children would have been eligible to receive monthly
survivors payments.

After becoming fully insured for life.—Many women work long
enough to build up the social security credits necessary to become fully
insured for life, but stop work before reaching retirement age. If
you are one of these, up to 5 years of no earnings are disregarded in
figuring your average monthly earnings. If you have no earnings for
more than 5 years before you reach 62 years of age, the amount you
are entitled to receive decreases gradually, but never falls below the
minimum of $24 a month. If you return to work at any time all of
your earnings will help to raise the average monthly earnings on which
your benefit will be based.
Miss Smith was employed in a brokers' office during most of her working
years. In 1937, when the social security law went into effect, her job was
covered by old-age and survivors insurance, and the firm for which she
worked started reporting her earnings and paying the social security tax.
At the end of 1949, Miss Smith resigned her job, and no earnings have
been credited to her social security account since that time. She has 13
years of covered work—which is more than enough to insure her for life.
Being "fully insured," however, has nothing to do with the amount of the
monthly benefit which Miss Smith can start getting when she reaches retirement age. Her benefit amount will be based on her average earnings,
and sin£e she has had no earnings since 1949, her earnings will be figured
beginning with 1937. The "drop-out" provision gives her the advantage of
disregarding 5 years when she had no earnings. How much the years of unemployment will reduce the benefits payable on her account depends on how
soon she reaches age 62 or dies.

When Is a Disabled Person Eligible for Benefits?
A worker of any age who has been totally disabled for more than
6 months may apply to have her social security earnings record frozen
in order to retain her rights to benefits and to keep any future benefits
from being reduced.
Amendments adopted in 1956 provide benefits (1) for an insured
woman worker between 50 and 65 years of age who becomes unable
to work because of total disability, if she meets the requirements of the
law; (2) for a disabled person over 18 who is a dependent child of a

11 W H A T




TO W O M E N "

person who is entitled to old-age insurance benefits or who dies insured, if the child became disabled before reaching the age of 18 years;
(3) for the mother of the disabled child entitled to benefits.
A woman who believes that she may be entitled to benefits under
any of these provisions, should get in touch with the nearest social
security office.

What Is the Age of Retirement for Women?
The 1956 amendments to the social security law lowered the retirement age for women from 65 to 62 years (beginning with November
1956). A wife's benefit based on her husband's account will be reduced
by 25 percent if she applies at 62 instead of 65 years of age, and a
woman worker's benefit will be reduced by 20 percent at age 62. In
the case of either a wife or a woman worker, the amount of the
reduction will be less with each month she waits before applying.
If she waits until her 65th birthday to apply, the benefit will not be
reduced at all. A widow who applies at 62 years of age will receive
her monthly widoiv's benefit without reduction. The dependent mother
of an insured worker who dies leaving no widow, widower, or child
eligible for benefits may receive a parent's unreduced benefit at 62
The following summary shows the percentage of her full monthly
benefit that can be received by a woman worker or by the wife, widow
or dependent mother of an insured worker, who applies at specified
Percent of monthly benefit received

Age when application is made
62 years


Wife of

Widow or dependent
mother1 of deceased worker

63 years




64 years




65 years or over




Dependent mother eligible only if worker dies leaving no widow, widower, or dependent child.

Here are a few points to consider before deciding to apply for reduced benefits:
(1) If you apply for a reduced benefit, the amount you receive each
month will not be increased as you grow older; you will continue to
receive the reduced amount even after you reach 65 years. However,
your benefit will be adjusted to give you credit for any period of 3
months or longer before age 65 during which you received no benefits
either because you were working or because your husband was working.
(2) If you start receiving reduced benefits before you reach 65
years, the total amount of your benefits will be greater for several



years than if you had waited until you reached 65 to apply. In the
case of a wife's reduced benefit, the total will be larger for 12 years;
in the case of a woman worker's, for 15 years.
(3) If your husband should die while you are receiving a wife's
reduced benefit, your benefit will be changed to a widow's full benefit,
even if you are still under 65 years of age.
Janet Jackson decides to claim benefits at the same time her husband
claims his. He is 65; she is 62. Her husband's monthly benefit is $88.50.
She will draw $33.30 (her wife's benefit reduced from $44.30 because of her
age). After a year, Janet's husband dies. Janet will then receive a full
lump-sum death payment of $225 and her full monthly widow's benefit of

(4) If you receive a woman worker's reduced benefit and have
dependents eligible for benefits, or if you die leaving survivors eligible
for benefits, their benefits will not be reduced but will be based on
your full benefit. At age 62, if you formerly earned social security
credits but are no longer working, check with your social security
office on your eligibility for benefits.
It is important to consider all these things before you decide at
wThat age you wish to apply for benefits.
The social security office is not permitted to make the decision for
you. You must decide for yourself what you prefer to do.

SINCE 1950
Professional Workers
Professional persons who are employed on a wage or salary basis
have been eligible for old-age and survivors insurance coverage since
1937 on the same basis as other employees. This includes teachers in
private schools (except for schools not operated for profit and therefore exempt from the payment of income tax).
Beginning with 1951, teachers in public schools, like most other employees of State and local governments, could be covered under voluntary agreements between the State and Federal Governments. Since
January 1,1955, it has been possible for employees covered by a State
or local retirement system to be brought under social security, provided a majority of the members of the system vote in favor of social
security coverage. Since 1951, also, teachers in schools determined
by Internal Revenue Service to be nonprofit organizations can be
covered by social security if the organization files a certificate waiving
its exemption from social security taxes and at least two-thirds of the
employees indicate that they wish to be covered.
Recent amendments have gradually extended coverage to self-employed professional persons. The following list shows the year in
which these groups were first covered:

Persons self-employed
as owners or partners
in a trade or business


Professional accountants
Professional architects
Professional engineers
Funeral directors
Christian Science
Self-employed farmers



i Optional—may earn social security credits by individual choice.

All self-employed persons are now covered by social security except
physicians and self-employed public officials.




If you are in one of the professions made eligible for coverage in
1956, you can become insured as early as April 1,1957, if you have had
net earnings of $400 or more in each of the years 1956 and 1957. If
you reach retirement age (62 years for women) by the end of March
1958, these 2 years of work will be enough to make benefit payments
possible; if you die between April 1, 1957, and March 31, 1959, this
much work is enough to make payments possible for some of your

Industrial Homeworkers
A woman who works for a business firm but does the work at home
for cash wages of $50 or more per quarter from any one employer is
covered by social security. This is true whether or not her work is subject to the licensing regulations of the State in which she works.

Practical Nurses
Almost all practical nurses are now covered by social security, but
the conditions under which the practical nurse earns quarters of coverage depend upon her working situation. For example, a practical
nurse in private duty who gives medical care to patients under the
direction of a physician is covered as a self-employed individual, if
her net earnings for the year amount to at least $400. But a practical
nurse whose responsibilities are mainly the physical rather than the
medical care of a patient in a private home, and who restricts herself
to the physical care of patients, performing the kind of duties normally expected of a maid, valet, or other household employee, would
be covered as a household employee.
Practical nurses employed in nonprofit hospitals or institutions are
also covered as employees, if the institution and two-thirds of the employees have mutually voted for coverage under the old-age and survivors insurance program. Those workers who voted against it are
not covered, but any workers hired after the institution adopted coverage are automatically covered. As an employee of a hospital operated by a State, city, or county, a practical nurse is covered by social
security if the State in which the institution is located has, since 1950,
entered into an agreement with the Federal Government for the coverage of such employees.

Household Workers
A household worker employed by a private family in or about the
family's home may be able to build social security protection for her
old age, or for her dependents if she should die. From 1951 through


1954 she could obtain, social security credit for any calendar quarter in
which she was paid $50 or more (in cash) for work on at least 24 days
for one employer. Beginning with 1955, she earns credit for any
calendar quarter in which she is paid $50 or more by one employer,
without regard to the number of days worked.
A woman employed in a private household where she earns $50 or
more a quarter can get social security no matter what kind of work
she does. For example, she may be a
cleaning woman

general houseworker
nurse maid

or she may be employed in some other capacity. She may do one kind
of work one day and another the next.
The employer's responsibility for reporting wages paid to a household worker and for sending in the social security taxes due on those
wages, is explained on pages 18-19. If a household worker is paid
as much as $50 a quarter by each of several employers, each employer
must send in the tax. This will increase the average monthly earnings
on which her benefit will be based.
A woman, who does household work on a farm operated for profit,
as an employee of the farm operator, is eligible for social security on
a somewhat different basis. Her work, like that of the farmworker,
counts toward social security if she is paid $150 or more in cash wages
in a year by one employer or if she works on at least 20 days in a year
for one employer and is paid cash wages on an hourly, daily, weekly, or
monthly basis.

Farmworkers and Farmers
Beginning January 1, 1955, a woman who operates a farm, ranch,
or any other agricultural enterprise is covered by social security if her
net earnings from self-employment are $400 or more in a year. An
alternate method of determining net earnings from self-employment
is provided for low-income farmers, many of whom may not keep
detailed records.
A hired farmworker gets social security credit for the work done for
each farm operator who paid her $100 or more cash wages in 1955 or
1956. Beginning with 1957, the hired farmworker is covered if she
is paid $150 or more in cash in a year by one employer or if she does
farmwork for him on 20 or more days in a year and is paid cash wages
on a time basis. This provision applies to both regular and migratory
farmworkers, but not to foreign workers admitted on a temporary


Employed Women
Persons who are regularly employed in industry are almost certainly
earning social security credits. Most men's and women's jobs in business and industry have been under old-age and survivors insurance
provisions since January 1, 1937.
An employed woman is entitled to social security credit for every
calendar quarter in which she works for pay, whether she works full
time or part time. The amount of protection she acquires depends on
the amount of her annual earnings up to a ceiling of $4,200. Socialsecurity credits build up just as fast for a secretary who earns $4,200
as for the highest paid person on the payroll.

Self-Employed Women
All self-employed persons except doctors of medicine are now covered by social security. Among these are the self-employed professional persons listed as covered on page 13, and persons in business for
themselves, for example, self-employed—
insurance agents
public stenographers
newspaper correspondents

home demonstrators
craft workers
music teachers
real estate dealers
dancing teachers

Also included are operators of a business establishment, such as a—
beauty salon
florist shop
gift shop
grocery store
nursery school

rooming house
specialty shop
stationery shop
tourist home

Credit for four quarters of coverage is given for each year in which
a person has net earnings of $400 or more from covered self-employ16


ment. No social security credit is given on self-employment earnings
totaling less than $400 in a year.

Working Wives
If a married woman worker should die while living with her husband, and if she is either fully or currently insured, he will be entitled
to a lump-sum death benefit amounting to three times her primary
insurance amount, but not more than $255.
The working wife who retires cannot draw benefits both as a worker
and as a wife. She will receive her full monthly benefit as a worker
if she retires at 65 or over (or 80 percent of this if she retires at 62
years of age); and if this amount is smaller than the amount to which
she is entitled as a wife she will be paid the difference in addition to
her own old-age insurance benefit.
A wife's benefit is equal to one-half the amount of her husband's
retirement benefit. If she applies at age 62, her benefit is reduced by
25 percent. Since a woman worker who has had average monthly earnings of $100 or more is eligible at age 65 to receive a retirement benefit of $55 or over, and since $55 is more than the highest wife's benefit
payable, many married women workers will receive only the old-age
insurance benefits based on their own social security accounts.
The old-age benefits of a retired woman worker are not affected if
her husband goes to work and has earnings high enough to cause the
suspension of his benefits. But a woman who is receiving a wife's
benefit will have her wife's benefit stopped for any month in which
her husband is not entitled to be paid his benefits.
If a woman worker is receiving benefits based on her own earnings,
plus additional benefits based on her husband's account, the portion of
her monthly check representing her own benefits will be paid to her
even if her husband's benefits are suspended. The portion of her
check representing the difference between the amount of her retirement
benefit and the amount of a wife's benefit will be withheld for any
month in which the husband's benefits are suspended. If he is not
yet 72 years of age, his benefits will be suspended whenever his earnings for the year exceed a certain maximum.
Mr. and Mrs. Jones are a working couple. Mr. Jones, a salesman for a
wholesale jobbing house, had his 65th birthday in 1955 but planned to keep
on working for at least 3 or 4 more years. Mrs. Jones, the proprietor of a
small notion store, became 65 and retired at the end of 1956. Mr. Jones'
job has counted toward old-age and survivors insurance since 1937; Mrs.
Jones started getting social security credit when self-employed persons were
brought under the law in 1951.


Mrs. Jones will receive monthly retirement benefits of $38.50 based on
her average monthly earnings after 1950. In computing her benefits, 5 years
of lowest earnings were dropped. Her benefit is based on her total net earnings for 1954 and 1955, her 2 years of highest earnings. This total will be
divided by 24 (the total number of months in 2 years) and the result will be
her average monthly earnings.
When Mr. Jones retires and begins to receive his benefits of $98.50, Mrs.
Jones will be entitled to wife's payments of $49.30. Since this is higher
than the amount of her own old-age insurance benefit, she will receive the
difference of $10.80 in addition to her own retirement benefit.

Women Who Employ Others
If you hire even one person to work for you in any covered trade
or business, you are responsible for paying the employer's share of
the social security tax on his earnings and for sending both his and
your share of the tax to the Director of Internal Revenue every 3
months. (Farm employers report once a year). If you are not sure
you are meeting all the requirements of an employer, you should inquire at once at your Internal Eevenue office. There are penalties for
failure to comply.
You may become an employer for purposes of social security without engaging in any business—just by hiring a babysitter or a cleaning woman and paying her $50 or more cash wages in a calendar
The types of household work ordinarily performed by women are
listed on page 15. If you employ a man—as gardener, furnace man,
or chauffeur, for example—he is covered on the same terms as a woman
household worker.
Where even one full-time household worker is employed, you will
almost certainly have to pay social security taxes. Note, however,
that only cash payments to household workers are counted for social
security purposes. Meals on the premises, uniforms, lodgings, and
transportation in any form except cash carfare are not counted.
A simplified tax return is provided for the use of a householder who
hires domestic help. You make a quarterly return to the Director of
Internal Eevenue on Form 942, enclosing the tax payment. On January 1, 1957, the total amount of the tax increases from 4 percent of
the wages you pay the worker to 4y2 percent. You may deduct half
of the tax from her wages, but the other half you must pay. Some
household employers pay the whole amount themselves.
Even a part-time helper may be able to earn social security credits.
It is no longer necessary for her (as it was during the years 1951
through 1954) to work on 24 days in a quarter for one employer. It


is only necessary that the employer pay her at least $50 cash in a
calendar quarter. There are 13 weeks in a quarter. If, therefore,
you hire a woman as a babysitter twice every week, at $2 or more a
sitting, she is entitled to social security credit for that work—credit
which will count toward old-age insurance benefits.

Women Who Support Others
A woman who supports other members of her family may be able
to provide benefits for them after her retirement or death. Her husband, her minor or disabled children, or her aged parents may be
eligible for benefits. To entitle her husband or widower to benefits,
a woman worker must be fully insured and also currently insured
that is, she must have been earning social security credits during at
least 1 y 2 of the 3 years just before her death or retirement. The
reason for this requirement is that in the case of a woman worker,
members of the family are not assumed to be dependent on her unless
she was working up to, or close to, the time of her death or retirement.
Retirement benefits.—Sometimes a man, because of sickness, disability, or other circumstances, is dependent on his wife when she
reaches retirement age. In a case where a woman is providing at
least one-half of her husband's support, and is herself both currently
and fully insured, her husband, when he reaches 65, may be entitled
to a monthly benefit equal to one-half of the wife's old-age insurance
benefit. Within 2 years of the time that the woman becomes entitled
to benefits or dies, even if her husband is still under 65, he must file
proof that he was living with her and receiving at least half of his
support from her. A dependent husband's benefits are not reduced
if his wife retires before she reaches 65.
Survivor benefits.—In case a woman worker dies both currently and
fully insured, leaving a dependent widower, he will be eligible for
survivor benefits when he reaches 65 if he files proof within 2 years
after her death that he was receiving at least half of his support from
Margaret F. has been the family breadwinner for some years. Arthur,
her husband, a much older person, formerly worked on and off—sometimes
in jobs covered by social security. For several years he has been dependent on Margaret. Margaret has been employed in work covered by social
security long enough to be fully and permanently insured. Because she
has been in covered work for at least half of the last 3 years, she is also
currently insured.
1 However, a woman may receive benefits as the wife or widow of a man who is fully
but not currently insured.


Arthur reached 65 this year. His time spent in covered work after 1936
was not enough to make him fully insured. Therefore, he is not entitled
to old-age insurance benefits based on his own social security account.
Assuming that Arthur continues to be dependent on Margaret for at least
half of his support, he will be entitled to benefits based on her social security
account if she dies or retires at 62 or older while she is currently insured.
If Arthur had had enough social security credit to make him fully insured,
he would not receive a husband's benefit based on Margaret's account unless
that benefit was more than the amount of his own old-age insurance benefit.
If the husband's benefit was higher, he would receive the difference as an
addition to his own monthly benefit.

If an insured woman dies leaving children under 18, they may be
eligible for survivor benefits. "Children" may include adopted children and stepchildren under specified conditions. Unmarried children
will receive monthly benefits until they reach the age of 18 in either
of the following situations—
(1) if the woman was currently insured at time of death, whether
or not she was fully insured. The assumption is that, since she
had worked recently, the children were dependent on her at least
for part of their support.
(2) if the woman was not currently insured, but was fully insured at time of death and was either living with the children
or was providing them with some support, and their father was
neither living with them nor contributing to their support.
At the time of her sudden death in 1956, Emma W . was fully insured
because she had been in work covered by social security for roughly half the
time since 1950. She was currently insured because she had at least 6
quarters of coverage within the 3 years preceding her death.
Emma is survived by three minor children and their father—her widower.
As she was both fully and currently insured at death, monthly benefits were
paid to her children without any question as to whether they were dependent
on her.

An unmarried child who becomes disabled before reaching 18 years
may receive benefits after the age of 18 years.
If a woman dies fully insured (whether or not currently insured)
and leaves neither a widower nor a child who is eligible for benefits;
and if she was helping to support her father or mother or both, they
may be entitled to survivor benefits. The father of an insured worker
may first become entitled to benefits at 65, the mother at 62; they must
file proof within 2 years after the worker's death that they received
half or more of their support from her at the time she died.
If a person (whether widow or widower, child, or parent of a deceased worker) marries while receiving survivor benefits, the benefits


Women Dependent on Insured Workers
Millions of women who have never earned social security benefits
themselves are in line for benefits earned by a husband, and in some
cases earned by a son or daughter.
The wife of a retired insured worker may claim a wife's reduced
benefit at age 62 or over. If she waits until she is 65 years of age to
apply, she will receive the wife's full benefit amounting to half her
husband's benefit. (See ch. 2, Age of Retirement.) A woman who
obtains a divorce loses her rights to a wife's benefit.
If a woman's husband dies, it is important for her to visit the social
security office as soon as possible to find out whether she is entitled to
benefits. A widow 62 years of age or over is entitled to a widow's
full benefit, amounting to three-fourths of her deceased husband's
monthly benefit. She loses her rights to a widow's benefit if she remarries. When an insured worker dies leaving a dependent mother
but no widow, widower, or child entitled to benefits, the dependent
mother is eligible for a parent's benefit amounting to three-fourths
of the worker's benefit, as soon as she reaches the age of 62 years.
A woman who has in her care a child entitled to child's insurance
benefits through her husband's earnings may be eligible for a mother's
benefit, regardless of her age, until the child reaches age 18. Under
the 1956 amendements, such a child who becomes disabled before
reaching 18 years can continue to receive the benefits after becoming
18 years of age. The mother of the disabled child 18 years or over may
also receive benefits, beginning in January 1957, as long as she has
the disabled child in her care.

Older Women
Women approaching retirement age may find it easier to qualify for
benefits under a special provision of the recent amendments. Under
that provision, beginning on July 1,1957, a woman worker can qualify
for monthly benefits if she is 62 and has social security credit for all
but 4 calendar quarters after 1954. This rule is of advantage only to
a woman whose 62d birthday occurs before October 1960.
For 13 years—from 1937 to 1950—Sarah H. was employed in the Marlowe household. In 1950, when Sarah was 57, Mrs. Marlowe died and Mr.
Marlowe went to live with a married daughter. Since then, Sarah has not
been employed. As household work did not count toward social security
prior to 1951, she has no social security credit.
Sarah does not feel physically able to work full time. Recently, a friend
told her that workers in a private household no longer have to work regu-


larly for one employer to gain social security credit. Sarah went to the nearest social security office to inquire and found that, for any year beginning with
1955, she can get social security credit for each calendar quarter in which
she receives $50 or more in cash wages from one employer. She was also
told that she was not too old to start earning social security credits. A
person can start at any age.
Sarah became 62 in the first half of 1955. If she returned to work during
the first quarter of 1956, she could become eligible for monthly benefits by
working in covered employment for 6 quarters ( 1 ^ years).
If by the middle of 1957 she has credit for these 6 quarters, the 5 years
after 1950 when she had no earnings can be left out in figuring the average
monthly earnings upon which her benefits will be based.

Other recent amendments of vital interest to older women are the
drop-out provision (see p. 9) and the lowering of the retirement age
for women (see p. 11).
A woman under 72 who is drawing benefits (as a retired worker,
dependent, or survivor) may earn up to $1,200 in a year without losing
any of her monthly benefits. She will not lose all her monthly benefits
unless she works in all months of the year and earns a total of more
than $2,080. The benefit will be paid to her for any month in which
she neither earns $80 in wages nor "renders substantial services in
A woman who is 72 years of age or over can draw her full benefits
regardless of the amount of her earnings.
Earnings are the only form of income which may cause the suspension of benefits. Income from savings accounts, insurance policies,
investments, rentals, or inheritances, is not counted in determining
whether the benefits for any month should be paid.


There are only a few things that you have to do to make sure your
social security account is in order, but they are important.

Starting an Account
Whether you are employed or self-employed, you must have a social security account number. Your nearest social security office will
give you a card showing your account number and your name. This
account number belongs to you for life; no one else has the same
Show your card to each employer you work for, so that when he
reports your wages and pays the social security tax for you he will
have your name and account number right. If you are self-employed,
be sure to put your account number on your self-employment tax report so that your net earnings can be credited to your social security

Replacing a Lost Card
Take good care of your card. Keep the card or the stub in a safe
place and be sure that some member of the family knows where to
find it in case of sudden death.
If the card is lost, ask the nearest social security office for a duplicate card to replace it.

If You Change Your Name
When a girl marries, she should notify the social security office of
her change in name.
All you need to do is to write to or visit your social security office,
returning your old card and filling out an application for a card with
your new name. You will receive a card with your new name and
your old number.




Making Sure Your Account Is Up to Date
If you have any doubt whether your social security account is correct, write to the Social Security Administration, Baltimore, Md.,
and ask for a statement of your account. You can get an addressed
postcard from your social security office for this purpose.
If your account is not correct, the social security office will help you
get it straightened out. In case you have paid social security taxes,
on earnings of more than $4,200 in a year, you may take credit for this
on your Federal income-tax return.
It is a good idea to ask once a year to have your account verified if
you have several employers or if you change jobs frequently—especially if you do not have receipts from each employer showing the
wages paid you and the amount deducted for social security. You
should check with the Social Security Administration every 3 years,
at least, since there are time limits for making certain corrections.

Claiming Benefits
Social security benefits will not be paid to you automatically. It
is necessary to apply for them at your nearest social security office. It
will save time to take with you whatever papers are needed to establish
your claim. You may need proof of age, preferably your birth or
baptismal certificate, or other old documents showing clearly your
age or date of birth. If you are applying for a wife's benefit, your
husband will have to sign an application. If you are a widow applying for survivor's insurance, you may need your marriage certificate.
Your application should be filed promptly, since payments can be
paid for no more than 12 months back. For every month's delay beyond 1 year of the time when you could have first become eligible, you
may lose 1 month's benefits. A lump-sum death payment usually
cannot be made unless application is made within the 2 years following the death of the insured worker.

Other Times for Action
There are three other times when it is important to consult your
social security office:
If totally disabled.—If you have been working regularly under social security and become unable to continue work of any kind because
of a disability, get in touch with your social security office as soon as
you have been disabled for more than 6 months. You may wish to
apply to have your social security record frozen for the period of


your disability to preserve your rights to benefits, and to keep any
future benefits payable to you from being reduced. If you are 50
years or over and meet certain other requirements you may be eligible
for disability benefits.
At 62 years of age.—When you are 62, get in touch with your social
security office. Even though you may not be immediately eligible
for benefits, it may be to your advantage to make sure that you have
all the information you need about your benefit rights.
At 72 years of age.—When you reach 72, you should get in touch
with your social security office, even if you are still fully employed.
Benefits may be payable to you after age 72, regardless of how much
you are earning.


Benefits for Women Under the 1956 Amendments to the Social
Security Law. OASI-1956-2. August 1956. U. S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Social Security
Administration, Washington 25, D. C.
Your Social Security: Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Under
the Social Security Law. OASI-35. November 1956. U. S.
Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Social Security
Administration, Washington 25, D. C.

Visit, Telephone, or Write to—
Your nearest social security district office for more information
about your status with regard to old-age and survivors insurance
benefits. You can find the address at your post office or in the
telephone directory under "United States Government, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Social Security

Write to—
United States Department of Labor, Washington 25, D. C., for
list of Women's Bureau publications on employment opportunities
for women in various fields.



Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102