The Honorable Linda Sanchez
2428 Rayburn House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.  20515

Dear Representative Sanchez:

On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I write to endorse your legislation entitled “Protecting Our Widows and Widowers in Retirement (POWR) Act of 2023.”  This bill would provide an important benefit enhancement for millions of low-income widows who rely on Social Security benefits for their income in retirement.

Social Security is a critical source of financial security for widowed spouses, the vast majority of whom are women.  Social Security’s survivors’ benefits are an important component of the benefits workers earn through the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payment they make with every paycheck.  These benefits are especially important to women, as they typically earn less then their husbands during their working years and also tend to outlive their spouses.  Under current law, when a retired worker dies, the surviving spouse receives a benefit equal to the retired worker’s full retirement benefit.

In the case of couples where both spouses are collecting a benefit based on their own work histories, the loss of a spouse can inflict a significant financial burden on the surviving spouse in addition to the emotional stress of losing a lifelong companion.  Fixed costs of living such as housing costs and utilities are not automatically reduced because there is one person living in the household instead of a couple, and other costs, such as home maintenance and caregiving, may actually increase after the death of the husband.  Yet the Social Security income the surviving spouse may depend on to pay these expenses can plunge by as much as one-half.

The Protecting Our Widows and Widowers in Retirement Act would help alleviate the financial burden on these couples by providing the surviving spouse a benefit equal to 75 percent of the combined Social Security benefit received by the couple prior to the spouses’ death.  This would help millions of American widows who face severe financial loss resulting from the death of their spouse.

The National Committee applauds your long history of promoting financial security for women and for strengthening and improving Social Security for today’s beneficiaries and for future generations.  We endorse this important legislation and look forward to working with you toward its enactment.


Max Richtman
President and CEO