Social Security is with you through life’s journey — from when you’re born, through forming a family, and into retirement. While everyone’s situation is different, women face unique challenges when choosing when to retire and making other decisions related to their future Social Security benefits.
When to Retire
Perhaps the most obvious factor affecting women in retirement is their greater longevity. On average, a woman who is 65 years old today can expect to live to about 87. By contrast, an average 65-year-old man will live to about 84. In addition, women tend to earn less over the course of their lifetime than men. This can translate into a smaller benefit amount. Women also enter their retirement years with smaller pensions and other assets.
Some or all of these factors could affect when you decide to begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits. If you decide to start benefits:
- before your full retirement age, your benefit will be smaller but you will receive it for a longer period of time.
- at your full retirement age or later, you will receive a larger monthly benefit for a shorter period of time.
The amount you get when you first begin receiving benefits sets the base for the amount you will receive for the rest of your life.
As you plan for the future, Social Security is with you every step of the way.
If You Are Divorced
If you are divorced but your marriage lasted 10 years or longer, you might be able to receive benefits on your ex-spouse's record, even if he or she has remarried. This may be possible if you are unmarried, at least 62, and your ex-spouse qualifies for Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
If You Become Widowed
If you are the widow of a person who worked long enough under Social Security, you can receive full survivor benefits when you reach the full retirement age for survivors. You can receive reduced survivor benefits as early as age 60, or as early as 50 if you are disabled. The full retirement age for survivors varies depending on when you were born. For people born before 1940, it’s 65. For those born after 1961, it’s 67. For everyone else, it’s between these ages.
If You Become Disabled
If you become disabled before retirement, you may be eligible for disability benefits if you’ve worked long enough and recently under Social Security. The length of time you need to have worked increases with age. Social Security pays disability benefits to people who can’t work because they have a medical condition that’s expected to last at least one year or result in death.
It’s never too early to begin developing a sound financial plan. A great way to get started is by creating a my Social Security account. It’s free, fast, and secure and gives you convenient access to your personal Social Security information. With a my Social Security account, you can get your Social Security Statement to review estimates of your future retirement, disability and survivors benefits and verify your earnings are posted correctly since Social Security benefits are based on your lifetime earnings.
Social Security is here to help you secure today and tomorrow. To learn more, visit our web page dedicated to the concerns of women.