Social Security’s Unintended Consequence
You may have heard that Social Security Administration provides something called “survivor benefits,” where qualifying surviving spouses can receive benefit payments as long as certain conditions are met. These benefits were established back in 1940, when there was primarily one household wage-earner and one stay-at-home spouse. The intent was to ensure that if the wage-earner (i.e., the one with the Social Security benefit) died, the survivor would continue to receive that benefit and not have to worry about taking a cut in income. But now that there are so many two-income households, and thus (often) two Social Security benefits, the survivor benefit rules may actually create the unintended consequence of a real cut in your total benefit amount: ironically, the very problem that the benefit is supposed to solve.