While Social Security is a crucial component of many Americans’ retirement income, it is particularly important to women. According to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, 48 percent of elderly unmarried women relied on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their total income in 2017.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has written a booklet detailing what women should know about Social Security. Santa Barbara Estate Planning has summarized the highlights here:
Nothing keeps women from getting their own Social Security benefits.
There is no “marriage penalty.”
If you’re due two benefits, you generally receive the higher rate, not both
If you are divorced but were married for at least 10 years, you may be eligible for some of your ex’s Social Security
When your ex dies, you may be due a widow’s benefit
You can learn more by reading the SSA publication What Every Woman Should Know, which is available for free at https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10127.pdf. We can also help to answer questions in a consultation with Santa Barbara Estate Planning and Elder Law.