Joyce, Sykes Introduce Fair Social Security for Domestic Violence Survivors Act

Nov 06, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Dave Joyce (OH-14) and Emilia Sykes (OH-13) recently reintroduced the Fair Social Security for Domestic Violence Survivors Act which would expand access to Social Security spousal benefits for individuals who get divorced because they suffered domestic abuse by their spouse.

“Victims of domestic violence should never feel the need to stay in their marriage due to the fear of not being able to support themselves financially after leaving their abuser,” said Rep. Joyce, Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence. “This bipartisan legislation reduces the current barriers to access Social Security spousal benefits, so that victims and survivors don’t feel forced to stay in an unsafe situation.”

“We know that many spouses don’t leave unsafe marriages simply because they can’t afford to. Survivors who are already taking the courageous step of removing themselves from a dangerous situation shouldn’t be penalized financially when they leave an abusive marriage. The Fair Social Security for Domestic Violence Survivors Act will empower survivors by giving them the financial resources they need to leave their abuser,” said Rep. Sykes. “I’m glad to lead this bipartisan legislation with Rep. Joyce because everyone deserves to live safely and securely in our communities.”

Currently, couples must be married for at least 10 years to be eligible for spousal Social Security benefits. The Fair Social Security for Domestic Violence Survivors Act lowers this minimum marital threshold to five years for individuals whose former spouse has been convicted of domestic violence or abuse.

Statistically, leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence. Victims also cite lack of financial resources as a major barrier to leaving an unsafe relationship.

If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 for free, 24/7 support. 

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