Social Security is an important retirement income source, particularly for women. However, how well do you comprehend the benefits you’re entitled to?
Here are seven facts about Social Security that women should know prior to retirement.
1. Women face greater retirement financial challenges than men
Despite the fact that more women than men rely on Social Security, their benefits are typically lower.
After all, the more you work and pay into Social Security, the more credits you earn and the higher your benefit. According to a 2021 Fidelity survey, the average total wage earnings for women are $27,165 compared to $43,703 for men.
According to the Social Security Administration, women also tend to receive smaller pensions and have fewer assets than men, despite the fact that they typically live longer (SSA).
To avoid financial difficulties during retirement, women should invest wisely and understand their Social Security benefits.
2. You are eligible for partial benefits at age 62
According to the SSA, if you have worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least 10 years and accumulated at least 40 work credits, you can begin receiving partial benefits at age 62.
If you wait until your full retirement age to begin receiving benefits, you will be eligible for 100 percent of your benefits.
Depending on your birth year, the SSA considers “full retirement age” to be between 66 and 67 years old. Consult the chart on page 7 of SSA Publication 05-10024 to determine your exact age of full retirement.
3. Christopher Liew, CFA charterholder and founder of Wealthawesome.com, stated that you and your spouse can file for Social Security benefits separately and individually. However, both of you must have prior work experience and separate service records.
“This means that if you have a monthly claim of $2,000 and your spouse has a monthly claim of $1,500, your combined monthly retirement benefits should reach $3,500 immediately,” he explained. You are not restricted to receiving only 50% of your spouse’s pension.
4. If You Are Eligible for Two Benefits, You Are Generally Paid the Higher of the Two Rates.
You may be eligible for one-third to one-half of your spouse’s Social Security benefit if you are married. This is beneficial for women with a limited work history.
The likelihood is that you will only receive the benefit with the highest rate, not both. Therefore, the majority of retired working women receive their own Social Security benefit, not their spouse’s.
Liew stated, “The Social Security benefit paid to you as a spouse will be the greater of your spousal benefit and your own benefit.” “You cannot possess both.”
5.Working after retirement can reduce your Social Security benefits.
At age 62, you are eligible for a reduction in your Social Security benefits. However, if you decide to continue working while receiving benefits, the Social Security Administration will reduce your payments by $1 for every $2 you earn above the annual limit, which in 2022 is $19,560.
If you continue to work in the year in which you reach your full retirement age, the Social Security Administration will reduce your benefits by only $1 for every $3 you earn above the annual limit ($51,960 in 2022). After that year, your benefits will no longer be reduced in this manner.
6. Widows may be eligible for their deceased spouse’s Social Security benefits.
At age 60, a widow is eligible to receive 71% of her deceased spouse’s benefits. Once a widow reaches full retirement age, this percentage rises to 100 percent.
If you were living with your spouse at the time of their death, the SSA may grant you a lump sum payment of $255.
7. You may still be eligible for your ex-benefits spouse’s after divorce
You may believe that once you are divorced, you lose all the financial advantages of marriage. However, when it comes to Social Security, this is not always the case.
If you and your ex-spouse were married for at least ten years and you are currently single, you may be eligible for benefits based on their employment. (This has no effect on the benefits they receive.)
“Make sure neither of you was married to someone else at the time you were eligible for Social Security pension benefits,” Liew advised. The amount of Social Security pension you are eligible to receive depends on your ex-service spouse’s record.
During the divorce process, some women may sign a decree relinquishing their rights to their ex-Social spouse’s Security benefits. However, the SSA rarely enforces these laws.
If your ex-spouse has died and you are 60 or older, you can still receive benefits based on their work (or 50 if you have a disability).