Guest Bloggers, Retirement

Social Security: Learning How the System Protects Your Financial Future

March 2, 2023 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: March 2, 2023

Photo of Cindy HounsellDuring Women’s History Month, we recognize women innovators and those who have dedicated their lives to telling our stories both past and present. One important story from the last century concerns the status of women in the workforce.

More and more women have entered the workforce every year, into many new professions and more prominent positions. At the same time, we saw a major change in the nation’s voluntary retirement system—pensions steadily replaced by workplace savings accounts.

Women’s income security continues to be a challenge. Women are overrepresented in the low-wage workforce, and many must work part-time to accommodate family caregiving responsibilities. As a result, many women have lower Social Security benefits and fewer savings in personal accounts and workplace plans.

Many women face serious retirement challenges. Lower wages and gaps in earnings—plus a longer life expectancy than men—make it even harder for women to make their savings last longer. For most women, learning about Social Security and how to maximize benefits is critically important to their financial security. Working women who lack financial knowledge often feel less confident when making financial decisions. Consequently, they are more likely to put off planning for retirement.

Economist Dr. Heidi Hartmann is an expert on women’s issues and a friend of ours at the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement. Dr. Hartmann spearheaded important research about women’s reliance on Social Security—and continues to share stories with a new generation of leaders. As founder and former president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, she has helped address policies related to economic security and poverty for older working women.

Dr. Hartmann established a powerful coalition known as OWES, or the Older Women’s Economic Security Taskforce. She created OWES to educate policy makers and leaders about the stake that women have in the social insurance system—specifically as an effective anti-poverty program for millions of women.

In 1999, Dr. Hartmann convened a conference described as “an historic event” by The Washington Post. More than 60 OWES leaders, experts, and policymakers attended the conference, which helped release a report proposing that caregivers earn a Social Security credit.

Dr. Hartmann continues to focus on proposals that will modernize how women are rewarded for the full value of their work—both in the labor market and in caregiving for our elders and the next generation.

You should know how much you will receive from Social Security. To start, sign up for a personal my Social Security account to get an estimate of future benefits. You can also learn more on the Social Security for Women page.

Please share this with your family and friends – and post it on social media.

Our posting of this blog does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any non-Social Security organization, author, or webpages.

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  1. Humberto L.

    Women struggle for all mankind. Such as, Rosa de luxenburd and Clar Zetkin (back in 1910)

  2. Pat c.

    If my husband dies at age 70 and he has not started collecting SS, would I get his 100 percent of his age 70 monthly benefit ?

    I am 67 and have not started collecting on my own record yet.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Pat. Thanks for your question. The amount of your potential widow’s benefit is based on several factors, including: the earnings of your husband, when he started receiving his benefits, your age, and the amount of your own retirement benefit. We compare your own benefit with your potential survivor benefit. If your survivor benefit would be higher than your own current retirement benefit, you would be eligible for survivor benefits. For more information, please visit our Survivor Planner. We hope this helps. 

  3. Ted

    My wife currently receives a monthly Social Security check.
    I am trying to wait until I am 70 to start my monthly check.
    If I die before collecting Social Security will my wife be entitled to receive 50% of my benefit or will she not be able to collect because I never started?
    Thank you for your consideration
    Ted K

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Ted. Thanks for your question. The amount of her potential widow’s benefit is based on several factors, including: your earnings, when you start receiving your benefits, her age, and the amount of her own retirement benefit. We compare her own benefit with her potential survivor benefit. If her survivor benefit would be higher than her own current retirement benefit, she would be eligible for survivor benefits. For more information, please visit our Benefits Planner. We hope this helps.

  4. John R.

    What year did the Feds borrow 2 trillion dollars from The SS Fund at 3% and did they ever pay it back?

  5. Suhaym

    It’s really great. Thank you for providing a information.

  6. Bishara

    I went through your blog, it is quite informative, would really like to see more such blogs with amazing content and information. Keep sharing more such blogs.

  7. Sam S.

    There is no (or I can not find) place for general inquiry for information. I have questions to be clarified and follow:
    1. As a naturalized U.S. Social Security recipient citizen now residing abroad, married to Thai citizen (never lived nor worked in the U.S., having no Social Security number), can my wife be qualified to be my surviving spouse, after I die?
    2. Residing abroad, I’ve never filed claims for Medical expenses (through Medicare. Do not understand plan A nor B and coverage. Can it be used abroad and how ?
    Sam S. Longmani

    • Kim H.

      1. A quick Google search yielded this:
      2. If you are eligible for SS, you’d need to sign up for Medicare when you reach 65 yrs old. Medicare A is for hospitals and B for doctors. A is free, B has a premium based on your income from your tax return from 2 yrs back. Both of these only cover healthcare in the US. Medicare has a great brochure on their website

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Sam. Thanks for visiting our blog. In certain cases, noncitizens can receive Social Security benefits.  But, in order for them to receive benefits, we must have evidence of their lawful presence.  That means before we can pay out benefits for any given month, we must have evidence that they were lawfully present in the United States, during that month. To learn more, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions. As far as Medicare, there are two different types of Medicare: Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. When you are employed, you are paying for Medicare Part A which pays for your Hospital Insurance (HI). When you reach age 65, there is a premium for those who want Medicare Part B which pays for your Supplemental Medical Insurance (SMI). Part B covers doctor services, outpatient hospital care, durable medical equipment, lab tests and other services not covered by Part A. For more information on what Parts A and B cover, read Medicare and You. Finally, since you are living outside of the U.S., please contact your local  Federal Benefits Unit for any assistance related to Social Security benefits. Also, our Office of International Operations home page provides more information to assist our customers living abroad. We hope this helps.



  8. cstamey

    I would like to see Social Security Administration identify all the laws, rules, and practices that take or deny retirement benefits from/to workers who have paid into the Social Security system, i.e. taxation, Government Pension Offset, Windfall Elimination Provision, etc. Especially, during Women’s History Month, how this taxation, offset, and provision has impacted working women, taking taxes from them during their underpaid working years, reducing their retirement income resulting in Elderly Women in Poverty (EWP). Using the practical realistic standard of poverty, not the government standard of poverty.

  9. Linda L.

    i believe this is aggravating is – we end up paying federal taxes on our social security when we retire. we already paid taxes on the social security while we were working.

    Then some get caught in IRMMA which is even more costly. Because some, after retirement, continue to work for various reasons.

    The Government has no intentions of allowing the middle class women to stay middle class.

    • Ana A.

      What is IRMMA?

      • Ram

        Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount
        Your monthly Medicare insurance premiums are deducted from your Social Security payment.
        If you continue to work, or receive money via Required Minimum Distribution from an IRA for example, your Medicare premiums will go up. My premiums are double due to IRMAA.
        Never told me about this until I retired.

      • Ann C.

        Hi, Ana. Thanks for your question. If you have higher income, you’ll pay an additional premium amount for Medicare Part B (medical insurance) and Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage). We call the additional amount the income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA). For more information, please visit our Premiums: Rules for Higher Income Beneficiaries webpage. We hope this helps. 

  10. ASHLEY R.


    • Lillie M.


    • Ann C.

      Hi, Ashley. Thanks for visiting our blog. We respond to questions and provide general information on our Retirement, Survivors, Disability, Medicare and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. If you have a general question, we encourage you to ask here. But remember, never post personal information on social media. We hope this helps. 


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