Planning for Retirement? Social Security Has Some Good Tips for Women

social security, group of 5 ethnically diverse senior women outside smiling together

While many women plan on collecting Social Security benefits as part of their retirement income, many may be unaware of various factors that can affect the monthly amount. Also, although women make up a substantial part of our workforce, women’s earnings are still on average lower than men’s, therefore leading to lower social security benefits at retirement.

To help women make the most of their Social Security retirement benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) posted this recent blog. Below are the tips shared for women to consider when planning to apply for Social Security benefits:

Claiming benefits. Benefits can be reduced by up to 30% if you claim as soon as you are eligible, before your full retirement age. If you have other income sources you can use after retirement, such as a 401(k) or IRA, you can delay claiming your Social Security benefits. This delay will result in increased monthly benefits when you do begin receiving them. The increased monthly amount can have a positive impact on your financial security because you will receive a greater amount for the rest of your life.

Your health. Delaying your claiming age makes sense if you are in good health. If you are in poor health, it may make sense to claim earlier.

Spouse’s benefits. Married people are eligible to claim spouse’s benefits and are also eligible to claim their own benefits if they worked for at least 10 years. Your strategy must consider both you and your spouse. If neither of you can delay claiming, then claim the lower-earning spouse’s benefits first. Delaying the claim of the higher-earning spouse will result in greater growth in the monthly benefits. Even if you have never worked or worked for less than 10 years, you can claim spouse’s benefits after the income-earning spouse has claimed benefits.

Surviving spouses. If you have survived your spouse, you can claim survivor benefits. This can be up to 100% of your deceased spouse’s benefits. The amount depends on whether you can claim your own benefits first and if your spouse was receiving benefits prior to their death. Depending on income levels, you may be able to claim your deceased spouse’s benefits while delaying your own benefits.

Divorce. If you are divorced and were married for at least 10 years, you can claim spouse’s benefits at age 62. This applies if you did not remarry and if your spouse’s benefits are higher than your own benefits. If you remarry, you cannot claim under the former spouse, but you can claim under your current spouse. You cannot claim spouse’s benefits within 2 years of divorce.

Plan early. Develop a strategy for claiming benefits at least 10 or 15 years before you retire. One great way to get started is to create a personal my Social Security account. With a personal my Social Security account, you can get personalized retirement estimates, get estimated for spouse’s benefits, and get your Social Security Statement.

Read the full article here, Smart Social Security Strategies for Women. Please share with your colleagues and loved ones, especially the women in your life.

Karen Joy Fletcher

Our blogger Karen Joy Fletcher is CHA’s Communications Director. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she is the online “public face” of the organization, provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare and other health care issues. She is responsible for digital content creation, management of CHA’s editorial calendar, and managing all aspects of CHA’s social media presence. She loves being a “communicator” and enjoys networking and collaborating with the passionate people and agencies in the health advocacy field. See her current articles.