Why Social Security Retirement is Important to Women

March 7, 2019 • By

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Last Updated: July 16, 2021

" "Social Security plays an especially important role in providing economic security for women. In the 21st century, more women work, pay Social Security taxes, and earn credit toward monthly retirement income than at any other time in our nation’s history. But, women face greater economic challenges in retirement. Women:

  • Tend to live longer than men. A woman who is 65 years old today can expect to live, on average, until about 87, while a 65-year-old man can expect to live, on average, until about 84.
  • Often have lower lifetime earnings than men.
  • May reach retirement with smaller pensions and other assets than men.

Social Security offers a basic level of protection to all women. When you work, you pay taxes into the Social Security system, providing for your own benefits. In addition, your spouse’s earnings can give you Social Security coverage as well. Women who don’t work are often covered through their spouses’ work. When their spouses retire, become disabled, or die, women can receive benefits.

If you’re a worker age 18 or older, you can get a Social Security Statement online. Your Statement is a valuable tool to help you plan a secure financial future, and we recommend that you look at it each year. Your Statement provides a record of your earnings. To create an account online and review your Statement, visit our website.

If your spouse dies, you can get widow’s benefits if you’re age 60 or older. If you have a disability, you can get widow’s benefits as early as age 50. Your benefit amount will depend on your age and on the amount your deceased spouse was entitled to at the time of death. If your spouse was receiving reduced benefits, your survivor benefit will be based on that amount.

You may be eligible for widow’s benefits and Medicare before age 65 if you have a disability and are entitled to benefits. You also may be eligible for benefits if you are caring for a child who is younger than 16.

Our Social Security for Women page has valuable resources for people of all ages.

To read more about how we can help you, read and share the publication, What Every Woman Should Know.

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. vmd

    I have a torn tendon in my arm & effects from it, will never be 100%. I have a shattered foot, will always give me trouble, has put a strain on the rest of my body including my back. I have asthma and get tired easily. I have a disorder and can’t be in air conditioning, a cold room, or outdoors for very long. I have 2 injuries to my right hand, a broken finger that healed but gives me trouble.
    I was denied my disability payment. And I have a letter from Social Security stating that I am disabled.

    • Vonda V.

      We are sorry to hear about your disabilities. Unfortunately, and because of security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog and cannot assist you.

      To inquire about your claim, you will have to contact your local office as soon as possible or call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

  2. Sharon O.

    The laws Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) are extremely unfair laws that penalize teachers, policemen, and firefighters by taking 2/3 of their SS benefits, even if they paid into SS for 35-40 years, just because they worked as teachers, etc. This is ridiculous! Please help us (and yourself if you’re affected)! Sign the Petition to pass Bill HR 141 by going to – Take Action and scroll down to Retirement Security. Under that you’ll see “Cosponsor and support the SS Fairness Act of 2019 (HR141). Fill in your name to prove you’re a real person and submit; You’ll see the petition written by the National Education Association – hit “Submit”. thanks!

  3. Lorinda K.

    I believe I was over-paid the month of March. Who can I contact about this? Thank you.

    • Yeni

      According to the minimum is $771.00 unless you were given something different than that, you should go to your local SSA office where you live.

      Make sure that you take copies of all documents that shows what you are supposed to be given vs the amount that you think is an overpayment.

  4. S.E. S.

    One for the books, and “why” Reform is needed. I am 53, will be 54 this year. Married for 11 years, now divorced. Former husband obtained Full Disability Retirement as Professional Firefighter, though he only 45 Years Old at the time. He has Full (Retirement) Pension, Full SSDI, and Full Disability Insurance he obtained. I receive one-half of his monthly pension, each month. (I too am disabled, but did not work long enough to get SSDI on my own Account). I will have to wait until I am 62 before I can get SSDI on his (higher) Account. I he dies, I will qualify for for percentage of his SSDI when I am 55- because I am disabled too. Otherwise, I would have to wait until Age 62. If he dies, however, I will lose my percentage of his pension. Reform is needed, so that an unmarried divorced former spouse can receive a percentage of their former spouse’s SSDI at the same time as that SSDI-gaining former spouse. Also, the death of that former spouse should not negate the pension Benefit of the (surviving) former spouse. Just a thought.

  5. Murphy H.

    I am 66 and five years ago when retire spouse, age 68 died, I was told I made too much money to drawn widows benefit and would not be eligible for his social security. What is written by SSA is not clear and is confusing. Suggest you be more clear on who qualifies for benefits and when. I am still not clear as to whether now that I am of retirement age if I can draw on his account. I am still working and have not filed for my SSA.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Murphy. You can work while you receive Social Security retirement (or survivors) benefits. At 66, you’ve reached your full retirement age. If you work and are full retirement age or older, the amount you make at work will not affect your Social Security benefits, no matter how much you earn. Since you are eligible for retirement benefits (but haven’t applied yet), you have an additional option. In many cases, a widow or surviving divorced spouse can restrict the scope of their application and start receiving their survivors benefits, while delaying their own retirement benefit and earn delayed retirement credits. At this time you cannot apply for survivors’ benefits online. To make an appointment with your local Social Security office, call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. We hope this helps.

  6. Susan h.

    How do I Chang from ss# card to my charge card

  7. EDITH B.

    I cannot draw my spouse’s social security because I have
    a small government pension of which I worked and
    earned. I draw a small amount of soc sec which I earned
    on my own. I understand this is called the WEP
    system and is not fair to women like me. When will this
    program be abolished?

  8. Debbie

    I am a woman who currently works for the county government and contributes to that retirement system. I was a stay-at-home mother for 18 years, raising my children, before working for the county. I recently learned that if I retire from the county with a pension, I forfeit the Social Security earnings I contributed in the first 15 years of my employment history, when I did not work for the government (before I was a stay-at-home-mom). If we know that women often earn less and therefore have lower retirement incomes, why am I not I entitled to the years I worked and contributed to Social Security, even if it would be a small check? I don’t understand the logic of this policy.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Debbie. Thanks for your question. The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) can affect how we calculate your benefit amount, resulting in a lower Social Security benefit than you otherwise would receive. A pension based on work that is not covered by Social Security (for example, Federal civil service and some State or local government agencies, such as police officers and some teachers) may cause the amount of your Social Security benefit to be reduced. The WEP does not affect your Social Security benefits if you worked and paid Social Security tax on 30 years of substantial earnings. Workers with 21 to 29 years of coverage or substantial earnings, are eligible for a partial exemption.
      To see how your Social security benefit can be affected by your years of substantial earnings, visit our Benefits Planner: Windfall Elimination Provision Chart web page. We hope this helps.

  9. Lesly f.

    I think ssa need to help people who don’t have inoff earning credit for benefits because there ages.

  10. Ralph S.

    The email header used Woman instead of Women

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