By better understanding your benefits as a single woman, you can capture more Social Security income over your lifetime. According to the government, here’s how you should do it. Remember, women live longer than men on average, so it’s in your interest to maximize your retirement income by planning for it a good long time in advance.
Create a my Social Security account. Creating a my Social Security account gives you access to your personal online Social Security Statement.
You probably plan to receive Social Security benefits someday. Maybe you already do. Either way, you’ll want a my Social Security account to:
- Keep track of your earnings and verify them every year;
- Get an estimate of your future benefits if you are still working;
- Get a letter with proof of your benefits if you currently receive them; and
- Manage your benefits:
- Change your address;
- Start or change your direct deposit;
- Get a replacement Medicare card; and
- Get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax season.
Setting up an account is quick. The government claims it’s secure and easy but it’s well known that the government sites are easy to hack. As we all recently discovered, the IRS is run on computers from the 1990s that still operate on Windows XP, a system that Microsoft has stopped supporting. They must be very easy to hack. It’s reasonable to assume the SSA is similarly vulnerable.
Keep an eye on it
You work hard every day to build a secure financial future, so use the downloadable Statement to plan and check the accuracy of the data.
Make sure your earnings are posted correctly, and find out how your future retirement is shaping up when you view your Statement. You owe it to yourself to be sure you are on the right financial path.
Having a strategic retirement plan already in place is important. Take advantage of the benefits of having a my Social Security account to form this plan. You can also gather additional tips from the fact sheet Social Security Is Important To Women, which offers snapshots on how to make the best decisions for your lifestyle.
Not only are women, in general, boosting their individual retirement savings, but over the past four decades, women are living longer. These facts reinforce the need to apply two key retirement principles: plan and save.
Take time to explore your financial and retirement options with the Social Security Administration. The idea is to get the most from your benefits, and the government is offering a dedicated resource to assist you along the way.
Social Security is neutral with respect to gender – individuals with identical earnings histories are treated the same in terms of benefits. This Fact Sheet is provided by the Social Security Administration to highlight how women benefit from the Social Security program and how certain demographic characteristics of women compare with the entire population.
- With longer life expectancies than men, elderly women tend to live more years in retirement and have a greater chance of exhausting other sources of income. They benefit from Social Security’s cost-of-living protections because benefits are annually adjusted for inflation.
- Women reaching age 65 in 2015 are expected to live, on average, an additional 21.6 years compared with 19.3 years for men.
- Women represent about 56 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries age 62 and older and approximately 66 percent of beneficiaries age 85 and older.
- The Social Security system is progressive in that lower-wage earners receive a higher percentage benefit than higher-wage earners do. The system returns a greater percentage of pre-retirement earnings to a lower-wage worker than to a higher-wage worker. Women who are low-wage workers receive back more benefits in relation to past earnings than do high-wage earners.
- In 2013, the median earnings of working-age women who worked full-time, year-round were $39,000, compared to $49,000 for men.
- In 2013, the average annual Social Security income received by women 65 years and older was $12,857, compared to $16,590 for men. Social Security provides dependent benefits to spouses, divorced spouses, elderly widows, and widows with young children.
- In 2013, for unmarried women – including widows – age 65 and older, Social Security comprises 49 percent of their total income. In contrast, Social Security benefits comprise only 35 percent of unmarried elderly men’s income and only 30 percent of elderly couples’ income.
- In 2013, 49 percent of all elderly unmarried females receiving Social Security benefits relied on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.
- Elderly women are less likely than elderly men to have significant family income from pensions other than Social Security. In 2012, only 22.0 percent of unmarried women aged 65 or older were receiving their own private pensions (either as a retired worker or survivor), compared to 27.7 percent of unmarried men.
- Participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans is increasing for women in today’s workforce. In 2013, 56.4 percent of women employed full-time participated in an employer-sponsored public and private sector plan compared to 53.0 percent of men. Women generally receive lower pension benefits due to their relatively lower earnings.
The Social Security website at www.socialsecurity.gov/women contains more information of interest to women.
This fact list is designed to provide general information and does not apply to all individuals within the female population.