It’s no secret that women face greater economic challenges in retirement than men: women live longer, often have lower lifetime earnings, and may reach retirement with smaller pensions and other assets. This has all been exacerbated by the pandemic recession, which has been so disproportionately damaging to women’s careers that experts are calling it a “shecession.”
With this gender gap in retirement security, it’s important for women to be financially knowledgeable so they can best prepare themselves for retirement. Below, we share 5 things women should know about Social Security. Also, note that while Social Security is important for a secure retirement, it only replaces about 40 percent of pre-retirement earnings; you will also need to have other income from pensions, savings, and investments.
1. Nothing prevents you from getting Social Security benefits. You may be eligible for your own benefits if you’ve worked and paid taxes into the Social Security system for at least 10 years and have earned a minimum of 40 work credits. Whether you’re married or not and whether your spouse collects Social Security or not, you may be eligible for your own Social Security benefit once you’re 62 years old.
2. There’s no marriage penalty. If you are married and you and your spouse have worked and earned enough credits on your own, you will each get your own Social Security benefit. A working woman is not limited to one–half of her spouse’s Social Security.
3. If you qualify for two benefits, you get the one that pays the higher rate — not both. You are potentially eligible for benefits on both your own and your spouse’s work record, but you only receive the higher rate. If you don’t have your own work record, you are eligible for between one-third and one-half of your spouse’s Social Security benefit. Most working women receive their own Social Security benefit amount because it’s more than one-third to one-half of their spouse’s rate.
4. If you’re divorced and were married at least 10 years, you’re eligible on your ex’s Social Security record. Divorced women who were married at least 10 years are eligible for Social Security based on their ex’s record, if they are unmarried when they become eligible for Social Security.
5. You’re eligible for a widow’s benefit when your spouse or ex dies. At age 60, a widow is eligible for 71 percent of what the spouse was getting before they died; at full retirement age, the window is eligible for 100 percent. The Social Security Administration pays your own retirement benefit first, then supplements it with the extra benefits you are due as a widow to bring your Social Security benefit amount up to the widow’s rate.
Retirement Planning with The Humphreys Group
The Humphreys Group is passionate about helping women harness their innate financial strengths through an honest, empathetic, and smart approach to wealth management. Want to learn more about retirement planning? Reach out to our team today.