The brief’s key findings are:
- While the poverty status of widows has improved markedly, widows remain much more vulnerable than married couples.
- One reason is that Social Security widow benefits have been declining – relative to the couple’s benefit – due to the rising labor force activity of women.
- In response, policy experts have proposed increasing the widow benefit, particularly for those with low to moderate incomes.
- To cover the cost, they would reduce the spousal benefit, essentially shifting money from when both spouses are alive to when only one member is alive.
- This policy appears to offer a well-targeted and fiscally responsible way to further reduce poverty for widows.