Why Social Security Retirement is Important to Women

" "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; and
  • 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 “People Like Me” website for women 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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51 thoughts on “Why Social Security Retirement is Important to Women

    • Hi Lisa, thank you for your question. When you receive disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, we will automatically convert your disability benefits to retirement benefits, when you attain your Full Retirement Age. The benefit amount will generally remain the same.

      On the other hand, if you’re receiving disability benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, and become eligible for any other Social Security benefits on your own record or the records of others (e.g., retirement benefits) you are required to apply for those benefits as soon as you’re eligible. SSI is a needs based program intended for disabled adults that have limited income and resources so additional income can affect SSI eligibility. To get a thorough explanation, please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Or you can contact your local office directly.

  1. Hello. I have to decided to take my Social Security early out of necessity, and I’m looking forward to my first check.

    Is it true that due to my estranged spouse’s high income that I’ll have to pay taxes on my $800/mo
    SS income? If so, is there a way to find out how much less my SS check will be each month?

    My estranged spouse and I have lived in separate homes and in different states for over five years. I live in North Carolina, and living in separate homes is considered legal separation. Will this legal separation prevent me from paying taxes on my SS income?

    Thank you for your help.

  2. My question about my social security number card now all information provided now just to get my card order now how login take to get my card now I be waiting for login time Estelle’s I do not get my card this is I living in Italy Milan address is 20135 name is bak last name is danso birth address is viale isonzo 11 Milan to confirm my social security card now all information required in office sand all details now

    • Hi Bak, thank you for your question. At this time you must have a U. S. mailing address to create or access your online account. The “my Social Security” authentication system requires address verification as one of the essential criteria for issuing an account. People with APO/FPO/DPO addresses can create an account overseas, but our system does not support registration and account creation for users with a foreign address yet.

      We recommend that individuals living outside the United States contact the nearest Federal Benefit Unit or U.S. embassy in the area for any assistance related to Social Security programs and benefits. Also, our Office of International Operations home page provides more information to assist our customers living abroad.

  3. Are there social security specialists who can help me fill out the social security tax form? I’m separated and my spouse normally does this, but I need to do this myself with help. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be taxed at 85% of my social security income. Thanks!

  4. My wife receives a small SS benefit. I recently learned that she could receive 1/2 of MY benefit amount and that would be greater than the amount she receives now. Is that true?

    • Hi Sam, thank you for your question. We will always pay a person’s own retirement benefit first. If their benefits as a spouse are higher than their own retirement benefits, they will get a combination of benefits equaling the higher spouse benefit. However, keep in mind that a spouse’s benefit cannot exceed one-half of the worker’s full retirement amount (not their reduced benefit amount). So, a person is only going to receive additional spouse’s benefits if their own full retirement benefit (not their reduced benefit) is less than half of their spouse’s full retirement benefit.

      Generally, during the initial interview when applying for Social Security benefits, we typically explore all other benefits that could yield you a higher benefit amount. To find out if she is eligible for a higher benefit amount, she can call us at 1-800-772-1213 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday or contact her local Social security office. Thanks!

  5. What about the women over 65.that 1 credit being able to support herself ,if something happens to my husband’.we been . married for 40 years.. I had to quit work,and I really enjoyed that job. I don’t know what men think.. I had to because I couldn’t work.now lm having knee replacement.He hAs retired and the guy said that c alled to explain.that he was retiring would have to take what they had given to $735amo nth and Glenn my husband l had taken care of ever since l married him.he was awarded a 1200 in retirement and was giving me 566. They took away .my disability and SSI..733. I make 277… I thought myself that Glenn .my husband was supposed to buy me clothes like a certain amount out of his money.and food.

  6. My estranged spouse lied about the pension, we’ve been married for 33 years, and soon I’ll only have $800/mo social security to live on. I did speak with someone over the phone from SS and she said to call the SS office the day my spouse turns 62. She wasn’t able to go into detail. Is there information about what this might be? Thank you for any help.

    • Hi. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. Generally, you will have a shorter wait if you call later in the day. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

  7. Hello. I have to decided to take my Social Security early out of necessity, and I’m looking forward to my first check.

    My estranged spouse and I have lived in separate homes and in different states for over five years. I live in North Carolina, and living in separate homes is considered legal separation.

    I don’t know what is the first step in requesting this. Hope you will consider a reply.

    free back ground checks

  8. Yes I worked, for 33 yearsl Casn you explain why the windfall elimination act takes from the poor?
    I had some low paying jobs but it was enough to live on at the time. So here I am, a low wage earner with a smaller SS check for retirement, and I loose a portion of that because I got another job and worked for another 12 years for the state.
    I paid in all those 33 + 12 years so why do I loose the SS I paid for. Windfall applies to people who have a lot of money and want more. The poor dont need to be discrimated against. Who do I contact.
    Joan Cash

  9. I was reading over the summary for my social security that I’ll be receiving. It states: “I am not entitled to nor do I expect to become entitled to a pension or annuity based in whole or in part on work after 19** not covered by social security.” I’m not divorced yet, and I’m not sure if my estranged spouse still has a pension, he works for a bank, that possibly I could be entitled to. Do I need to contact SS to let them know that I’ve no idea if I’ll have part of my estrange spouse’s pension at the divorce settlement? Or is this statement only for a pension that I would receive from my past employment, which there is no pension? Thank you, TM

    • Hi, TM. Thanks for your question. Generally, a pension based on your own work that is not covered by Social Security (for example, Federal civil service and some State or local government agencies) may cause the amount of your Social Security benefit to be reduced. Your Social Security benefits can be reduced based on one of two provisions: the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset. These would not apply to a pension earned by your ex-spouse but that you would be eligible to receive as a result of your divorce. If you have additional specific questions, please call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. Generally, you will have a shorter wait if you call later in the day. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

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