SSR 62-29. WAGES -- DOMESTIC SERVICE -- IDENTITY OF EMPLOYER
- The claimant performed domestic services in a private home that was jointly maintained and occupied by four women. The home was operated as a single housekeeping unit and the four women shared all household expenses, including payment for the claimant's services. Held, the four women constituted a single employing unit for purposes of determining whether the cash remuneration paid the claimant was wages under section 209 of the Social Security Act.
D filed application for old-age insurance benefits in September 1961. Since she attained age 62 in September 1961, she needed 10 quarters of coverage to become entitled to benefits beginning that month. D's social security earnings record showed 7 quarters of coverage acquired before 1959, but no wages or quarters of coverage after 1958. However, D stated that she had employment and earnings not reflected by her earnings record.
It was determined that D had worked part-time as a domestic from April 1959 through May 1961 for four women who shared a house and that they had paid her $15 in cash each week for these services. The home was operated as a single housekeeping unit and each woman paid an equal share of the household expenses, which included D's pay. Each woman contributed $3.75 per week (or $48.75 per quarter) toward D's pay. The women had equal authority to control and direct D in the performance of her services as well as to terminate the employment relationship.
The question is whether D acquired at least 3 quarters of coverage by reason of this work so that, with the 7 quarters of coverage previously acquired, she would have the 10 quarters of coverage she needs to become entitled to old-age insurance benefits.
Section 213 of the Social Security Act provides that the term "quarter of coverage" means a calendar quarter (i.e., a period of 3 calendar months ending on March 31, June 30, September 30, or December 31) in which an individual is paid $50 or more in wages, or meets other requirements not applicable here.
Section 209 of the Act provides, as pertinent here, that the term "wages" means remuneration for employment. However, under subsection (g) of section 209, remuneration for domestic service in the nonfarm private home of the employer is not wages unless (1) such remuneration is paid in cash and (2) such cash remuneration paid in a calendar quarter to the employee by that employer is $50 or more.
Under subsection (g) of section 209, if each of the women for whom D worked in 1960 is considered a separate employer, D's cash remuneration from them would not be wages since her cash remuneration from each employer in a quarter would be less than $50. The fact that the total of such payments is over $50 in a quarter would not make them wages, and no quarters of coverage could be established on the basis of such payments. On the other hand, if the women constitute a single employer, D would have been paid wages of $50 or more in each of the 9 calendar quarters in the period beginning April 1, 1959, and ending June 30, 1961, and would have 9 quarters of coverage in addition to the 7 quarters of coverage acquired before 1959. Thus, D's entitlement to benefits depends on whether these women are considered one employer or several employers.
The home in which D performed her domestic services constituted a single housekeeping unit in which each woman had the right to control, direct or terminate D's services and an obligation to contribute equally to pay the cash remuneration for D's services. In such circumstances, where domestic services are performed in a dwelling which is occupied and operated as a single housekeeping unit by several individuals who have the right to direct and control the performance of the domestic services and who contribute to the cost thereof, such individuals constitute a single employing unit with respect to the domestic services.
Accordingly, it is held that the four women constituted a single employing unit and therefore D's cash remuneration for her domestic services is not excluded from wages under section 209(g) of the Act. It is held further that she was paid wages of $50 or more for the 9 calendar quarters in the period April 1, 1959, through June 30, 1961. Thus she has a total of 16 quarters of coverage and is entitled to old-age insurance benefits beginning September 1961, having met all other requirements for entitlement.