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The Clarendon Enterprise
Clarendon, Texas
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June 30, 1994     The Clarendon Enterprise
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June 30, 1994
 

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Page 10 :bt (lartabon .tW Thursday, June 30, A Woman Raises The Question Of Equity In Social Security A recent caller to our office said, "I'm a married woman who is working and paying Social Security taxes. My married sister is not working and is not paying Social Security taxes. When we're old enough to collect Social Security, my sister's benefits will be based on her husband's earnings even though she has never worked. It only seems fair that my benefit should be based on both my earn- hags and my husband's earnings. Otherwise, the Social Security taxes I've been paying will have been wasted." The woman's assertion is one I hear fairly frequently these days- -but it is bases on some wrong as- sumptious. First, let me explain some program basics. Ifa woman is mar- ried, she can receive retirement benefits either on her own record or on her husband's. (At age 65, a spouse would get 5O percent of what the wage earner is entitled to at 65.) But whenever a woman is eligible for benefits as both a worker and a spouse, she gets the higher benefit of the two. It is important to state that a working woman's Social Security taxes are not "wasted." In fact, they could be considered a very good investment. The married woman who called me has several impor- SLIM SIDES DOUBLE S TV & VCR REPAIR P.O. Box 750 Clarendon, Tx. 79226 Ph. (806) 874-5081 spoil you! We treat you as someone.special. You can see it in the friendly smile that greets you at the counter. You know it in the cheerful way we handle special requests. You'll notice the difference in our- first-class drycleaning, too. Come in today...let us spoil you. Greenbelt Cleaners 874-.q)24 A member of the International Fabricate Institute, the association of professional drycleaners and launderers. tant advantages over her sister, just because she has her own Social Security eligibility. Four examples come immediately to mind: She may get a higher benefit when she retires than she would if her benefit was based solely on her husband's earnings. If she became disabled, she and her dependent children could qualify for disability benefits. If she retires before her hus- band, she can receive benefits based on her own earnings, even though her husband continues to work. In the event of her death, her survivors may be eligible for benefits based on her earnings. Also, it would not be fair to single workers if a working woman, who qualifies for a full benefit based on her husband's earnings, also received a full benefit than a single worker with the same earn- ings. I know, however, that the whole issue of fairness for women under Social Security is a compli- cated one. And the Advisory Council on Social Security, which meets every four years, will have women's equity issues on its agenda when it convenes later this year. Retirement: The 42 Percent Solution How much money is needed to assure a comfortable retire- ment? Many financial analysts recommend that middle-income Americans need a replacement rate of about 80 percent of pre- retirement earnings. Too often, people never think about where that money will come from until it's too late to do much about it. Social Security retirement benefits replace about 42 percent of an average earner's pre-retire- ment earnings. Social Security is a financial base on which most retirees can build. Some critics of the program say they could do a lot better than Social Security in providing for their retirement. I would en- courage them to make the effort, because a partnership with each worker is what was originally in- tended. When the original Social Security Act was passed almost 60 years ago, Social Security retire- ment benefits were thought of as part of a "three-legged stool." The other two financial "legs" were (1) personal savings and investments and (2) employer pensions. What if an individual is either wise enough or lucky enough, through investments and pensions, to duplicate Social Security's re- Happy 4th of July! Sam Hill's Pit Bar B Q Tumdayatnrdays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Clarendt,00'00 ,00)ffice Supply & t00,inting placement rate of 42 percent of earnings for an average individual? He or she would then reach an 84 percent figure and assure themsel- ves a comfortable retirement. If you do a little less well, the effort is still all to the good because you will have more than just Social Security to rely on. A good starting point for any analysis of what you will want or need for your retirement year is a Personal Earnings and Benefit Es- timate Statement that is available free from Social Security. Just call 1-8--772-1213 and one of our rep- resentatives will be happy to help you. Common-Law Marriage And Social Security Today, more than three million men and women live together without the benefit of a marriage ceremony. In some cases, their co- habitation may become a common- law marriage and they could be en- titled to the same Social Security benefits as couples who have had ceremonial marriages performed. A common-law marriage is one which was not solemnized by either a religious or civil ceremony, but in certain states, may be entered into by the mutual agree- ment by a man and woman to be married. Other states recognize common-law marriages up to a date in the past. ff a claimant can establish that a common-law mar- ringe was entered into before that date, entitlement as a common-law spouse is permitted. Most states--even those in which a man and woman could not enter into a valid common-law mar- ringe-will recognize a common- law marriage validly entered into in another state. For Social Security purposeg the basic requirements for a valid common-law marriage are that and (2) agree to become and wife in a state which Evidence to prove a mon-law marriage ment from each and a from a blood relative of either of the parties are dead, I a statement from two blood l fives of the decedent The statements the husband, wife and must be made on s are available in any Social office. Evidence such as receipts, bank records, policies, etc. may also to show that the themselves husband While state law, couples can be sidered married "sojourn doctrine." The doctrine stipulates that if a travels as husband and holds themselves out as state which recognizes law marriage, a riage may arise under state they are visiting. Anyone who is more information regarding - Security and common-laW riages should contact their Social Security office. 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