for support of a wife. Commonwealth ex rel. Hopp v. Hopp, 30 Pa. Dist. & Co. R. 648 (1937). The divorce decree itself contained no mention of alimony nor did it incorporate the written separation agreement. It is quite obvious then that there was no court order as contemplated by the Act in existence at the time of plaintiff's death.
Therefore, it cannot be said that wage earner provided one-half of plaintiff's support for 12 months prior to May 1957, the "reasonable period" of time allowed therefor by the social security regulations. Neither did she receive substantial contributions under the written separation agreement, for the appropriate regulation states that generally the claimant must actually be receiving the contributions at the applicable time (time of death).
In either situation above, the regulations are liberalized when the wage earner is incapacitated due to illness. However, he must still provide one-half of the claimant's support for at least three of the twelve months preceding death, or, in the case of substantial contributions under a written agreement, a substantial contribution must be made to the divorced wife in no less than three of the twelve months before death. Considering that neither one-half support nor any substantial contribution was provided by plaintiff in any of the 24 months prior to her former husband's death, it is inconceivable that plaintiff could meet the above-stated requirements for entitlement to social security benefits as a surviving divorced wife.
Widow's insurance benefits are designed to provide the widow of a wage earner a modicum of maintenance after his death dries up her source of support. Sparks v. United States (Folsom), 153 F. Supp. 909 (D. Vt. 1957). The legislative history of the 1965 Amendments to the Social Security Act which permitted surviving divorced wives to receive widow's benefits stated that the purpose of the amendment was to retain widow's insurance benefits for women who were divorced after a long marriage but past the age when they reasonably could be expected to support themselves. Senate Report 404, June 30, 1965, 1 U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News 1965, pp. 2047-2048. It is obvious that at the time of the wage earner's death, as well as more than 12 months previous to then, the plaintiff was adequately provided for by the rents from the commercial property conveyed to her and from the $7500 lump-sum payment. More important, the sources of support were her own and not her husband's from no later than January 1955.
Plaintiff was not receiving one-half her support or substantial contributions pursuant to a written agreement from the wage earner at the time of his death in May 1957. Plaintiff herself admits that she never received any of the $100 monthly payments agreed upon in the separation agreement after April 1955. All of the personal and real property conveyed to her in that agreement, and the $7500 lump sum payment, were transferred no later than January 1955. All this property became hers, including any present and future rents therefrom, in fee simple. Her former husband had no right, title or interest to give her in any of this property within the 24 months before his death.
Income derived by a claimant from property conveyed to her by her husband does not constitute support from the wage earner, but rather it was income from property that was solely hers as a contribution to her support or maintenance which for all practical intents and purposes is equivalent to alimony in a lump sum, nor does income plaintiff may have derived from the property she received under the previous transfers constitute support money from the deceased wage earner. It is subsistence from property that was solely hers and not her former husband's subsequent to its transfer to her more than two years before his death.
Lastly, the plaintiff contends that the regulation of the Secretary is arbitrary, unreasonable, contrary to the spirit and intent of the Act, and not proper and, therefore, should be declared invalid.
If the regulation is consistent with the spirit and intent of the Act, it has the full force and effect of law.
Section 404.351 of the Regulations, 20 C.F.R. § 404.351, provides:
"(a) For purposes of sections * * 202(e)(1)(D) * * * of the Act, the term 'written agreement' means an agreement signed by the former husband providing for substantial contributions by him for the claimant's support. It must be in effect at the applicable time but it need not be legally enforceable. 'Substantial contributions pursuant to a written agreement' means contributions (as defined in § 404.350(d)) that are regular and sufficient to constitute a material factor in the cost of the claimant's support. Generally, the claimant must actually be receiving the contributions at the applicable time. However, if the former husband had been making such contributions toward the claimant's support, but, prior to the applicable time, was either forced to stop making such contributions, or to decrease the amount of his contributions because of circumstances beyond his control (such as illness or unemployment), it may be determined that he was making substantial contributions at the applicable time if the former husband would have continued the contributions if he could and his failure to do so did not last for more than 9 months (either consecutive or intermittent) of the 12-month period ending with the applicable time.
"(b) * * *