Social security retirement benefits and social security disability benefits, the latter granted only on the basis of a comprehensive medical records review, are a major lifeline for Americans who are retired or disabled. Here let us look at some important factors women should take into account when planning for their social security needs.
- Social security disability benefits: Women often move in and out of the workforce to meet certain domestic requirements such as caring for aging parents or children. This results in them not meeting the work requirements needed to claim SSDI benefits. Women should be aware that losing disability coverage could be the outcome of a disrupted work record.
- Change of name following marriage/divorce: Any change in name should be immediately reported to the SSA. Otherwise your earnings may not be properly recorded following which you may not receive all the benefits that are due to you.
- Longevity of women: Women tend to live longer than men and so it is important for them to consider when to begin collecting social security benefits. It is estimated that a 65-year-old woman can expect to live up to age 87, whereas a 65-year-old man can expect to live up to age 84. Women should consider whether they or their spouse should delay receiving SS benefits past their full retirement age (FRA) to receive delayed retirement credits. SS retirement benefits are increased by a certain percentage, depending on your date of birth, if you delay your retirement age beyond FRA, up to age 70. Couples should consider whether the higher earner should delay benefits up to age 70 to preserve the largest benefit for the surviving spouse, usually the woman.
- Spousal benefits: If your spouse’s retirement benefit isn’t at least half of your spouse’s benefit, you will receive a spousal benefit to make up the difference. Typically, women earn less than men over the course of their careers, and the spousal benefit is an important factor to maintaining financial security in retirement.
- If you are a widow and hope to remarry: If you remarry before reaching age 60 or age 50 if you are disabled, you cannot receive widow’s benefits as long as your marriage remains in effect. If you remarry after you reach age 60, or age 50 if you are disabled, you will continue to receive benefits on your deceased spouse’s SS record. If your current spouse is a SS beneficiary, you can apply for a spousal benefit if it will be larger than your widow’s benefit. You cannot receive both benefits, though.
There are several key factors such as the above to consider when planning for social security benefits. Women make up 56% of all Social Security beneficiaries age 62 and older and 66% of all beneficiaries age 85 and older. Therefore it is important for women to carefully plan for SS benefits, and a social security lawyer can provide the right advice in this regard.