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Women’s History Month and Social Security

March 21, 2024 • By

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Last Updated: March 21, 2024

Women's History MonthIn 1940, Ida May Fuller, became the first person to receive recurring monthly Social Security benefits. Just a few months prior, the 65-year-old legal secretary had stopped by her local Social Security office in Vermont to learn about how the program worked. She knew she had paid into Social Security but wasn’t sure if she would get anything back. A clerk at the office helped her apply for retirement benefits. Aunt Ida, as her friends called her, continued to receive Social Security benefits until she died at age 100 in 1975. 

Social Security continues to help women like Ida – and all people – with their retirement benefits. In fact, we’ve paid roughly $16.2 trillion to retired worker beneficiaries as of December 2023. Women retirees received about 43% – or $7 trillion – of that total. 

Are you ready to retire and want to learn more about your future benefits? Start now by signing up for a personal my Social Security account. Through your account, you can view your Social Security Statement to get estimates of future benefits and other important planning information. You can also review your full earnings history with a personal account. 

Are you age 70 or older – and not getting your Social Security benefits?  Learn how to apply for the benefits you’re owed in this important article. 

Our online booklet, Social Security: What Every Woman Should Know, provides detailed information about how life events can affect a woman’s Social Security retirement benefits. These events may include marriage, death of a spouse, divorce, self-employment, and other life or career changes. Two additional resources – our Retirement and Social Security for Women webpages – provide further details to help you navigate the process.   

Social Security is with you through life’s journey, just as we were back in Ida’s day. We invite you to learn more about applying for retirement benefits on our website. 

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

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  1. James S.

    Why doesn’t someone fix this simple to fix issue that causes such huge and complex problems.

    Let me explain. When someone apply’s for benefits it’s quite typical for it to be a year, two or more before they are, if they are granted benefits. Also quite expectedly over a year, two or longer period many folks change bank accounts, for many of reasons bank accounts are closed every day.

    When one initially files for benefits it is required that they fill in the portion of the form that request direct deposit information. As the time passes if they close the account they listed on their initial application ( As I Did) then learn they are eligible for benefits, that’s welcomed news. What isn’t welcomed news is there is no way to change their direct deposit information until they have been approved. Once they’re approved, and by the time they’ve learned of this they might just find that their back pay / retroactive payment has been sent to their old account ( As Mine Was) Now I have to wait for another month or more before it will be returned and resent. This can obviously be corrected with very little effort. So why does this continue?..

    • T.Y.

      Thanks for reading our blog and for your comment, James. We’re sorry to hear about your experience. You can submit feedback by visiting ourHow can we help? webpage. From there, select the “Email Us” link. This will take you to the “Email Our Support Team” form where you can submit a complaint, compliment, or suggestion. We hope this is resolved soon.

  2. Eliza B.

    Thank you for sharing

  3. Lois M.

    When are you going to help us who’s disabled, with stimulus money. We are struggling just like the tax payers. When are you going to help us

  4. Susan D.

    Overpayments are being pursued by Individuals claiming to be with the social security administration and are threatening individuals, companies, employers not to hire or do business with the Individuals the social security administration is pursuing with the alleged secretive debt they’re not suppose to know exists. The social security administration debt collectors tell neighbors, family, acquaintances and anyone their targeted Individual comes across, that they’re intentionally causing poverty because the individual is in a POVERTY PROGRAM which belongs to the SSA. They laugh and smile about the oppression and despair they are causing. They tell people that the Individual has “debt” that they are “not suppose to know about” and the community tells them, then why are y’all after them? If they are not allowed to work or know that a debt exist? And they simply smile and mention all the money theyre making while the government is WASTING money.

  5. JoAnne F.

    I feel there is so much our Government has messed with our SS. Esienhower shut off Governement workers such as Post office retirees, cannot get SS. Even though one may have worked at other employment before going to work a Government job. It’s unfair. It’s also unfair with the way the SS or our Governement has setup the distribution to widows. Why can’t they get the full amount their spouse was getting instead of cutting them down to half? Also, I just found out, a widow cannot collect on two husbands SS. I don’t when that changed as I know, my stepmother was able to collect from both her first and my dad’s SS. The Government needs to go back and read the rules in which SS was setup from the beginning and go back to it. Who gave them the right to change the rules?

    • Bill

      You are misinformed, no one ever was able to get paid SS from two different husbands at the same time. If you are married, and your spouse is drawing their SS when they pass away, you will get 100% of what they are paid if it is more than what you are currently drawing on your own earnings.

    • Pamela J.

      Why can’t those of us who have become widows not receive the full amount of our husbands full SS benefits? Not only are we dealing with our overwhelming grief we lose our SS benefits and we receive only a portion of our husbands benefits.
      I lost $1000.00 of income a month while dealing with my grief. Our government should be ashamed of how all widows are treated

      • S.D.

        We’re sorry for your loss, Pamela. The amount of your surviving spouse benefit is based on several factors, including your age. Generally, if you were younger than full (survivors) retirement age when you started your survivors benefit, you receive less than your husband’s full Social Security benefit. If you were full retirement age or older when your husband passed away, you may receive his full Social Security benefit. However, if you get a government pension for work not covered by Social Security, your survivors benefit may be reduced by the Government Pension Offset (GPO). To learn how GPO may affect your survivors benefits, visit our Benefits Planner. If you need additional help with your situation, you can contact your local Social Security office or call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. We hope this helps.

  6. Karen M.

    SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION is being RANSACKED FROM WITHIN by their very own OIG, CDI PROGRAM UNIT, overseers, contractors and affiliates. They are intentionally causing financial hardships, blocking all types of income so you can’t progress, poisoning people by giving them unknown substance without their knowledge by threatening an paying someone who usually would have access to your nutrition to put these things into your food and beverages. Finding and USING (doppelgangers) people that look like you to report or say that you been places that you never actually been or at that moment. They intentionally block all opportunities for income and also online sources of income so don’t think being an online trader will work. All these while they threaten and pay people “to not say anything” it’s a secret” “they’re not suppose to know” ” don’t tell them” meanwhile they threaten people to make FALSE statements about the individual and force them to believe conspiracies and many FALSE theories of the reasons why this is OCCURING. SSA is a POVERTY PROGRAM is what they claim to keep you unemployed and isolated. The SSA OIG routinely deal in RACKETEERING, CONSPIRACY AND FRAUD. RANSACKING THE ADMINISTRATION FROM WITHIN.

    • Lynn M.

      Looks like you have a lot of opinions and ideas that we need sources for your information. In general Social Security is a godsend for all Americans and I hope the program is protected and run correctly forever. In the wealthiest country on Earth no one should risk abject poverty in their elder years.

    • Janet S.

      Karen M.
      If everything you’re saying is absolutely true, or if I believed it, why not just top myself today?
      Social Security is a godsend for a lot of people. It isn’t perfect; Congress needs to keep away from it, and repay what they “borrowed”.
      The process of applying for benefits as a widow can be daunting, but not impossible.

  7. Hannah S.

    Please remove and clear the 2020 Overpayment Payment Center Cases please as the Social Security Administration AGREED to do so along with the Courts and Congress. Start by removing the NON RECIPIENTS, as those are the most affected.

  8. Lorri A.

    Do Railroad employees qualify for Social Security benefits?

    • Beth D.

      Lorri – RR workers are almost always entitled to SS benefits. If the SS benefit is higher than RR Tier 1 they can get the difference. It’s a dollar-for-dollar reduction in Tier 1 of RR. You can’t get benefits for the same earnings from both RR and SS.

    • S.D.

      Hi, Lorri. Thanks for reading our blog and for your question. If you don’t qualify for a pension from the Railroad Retirement Board, your railroad industry earnings may count toward your Social Security credits. You can learn more about Social Security and Railroad earnings here. If you have questions about your eligibility for Social Security, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. We hope this helps.


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