Being a woman myself I feel it is important to educate women on social security benefits and what their choices are for their situation. Through the years I have met with many women who have lost their husbands or gone through a divorce and are not aware of the social security system.
- Nothing keeps you from getting own Social Security Benefit – If you have worked for at least 10 years and earned a minimum of 40 credits, you are vested in the social security system. Once you reach age 62 you will be eligible for your own social security benefit whether you are married or not and whether your husband collects his Social Security or not.
- There is no marriage penalty or limit to benefits paid to a married couple – If you are married and both you and your husband both worked, you will each be paid your own social security benefit. A working woman is not limited to ½ of her husband’s social security, which only applies to women who have never worked outside the home.
- If you are due 2 benefits, you get the one that pays the most – Most women are potentially due 2 benefits, your own social security benefit and a benefit called Wife’s Benefit, you would get the one that pays the highest amount, but not both. The Wife’s Benefit is usually 1/3 to ½ of the husbands benefit amount. Most working women who reach retirement age get their own social security benefit because it is usually more than the 1/3 or ½ of husbands. If you husband dies before you, than you can apply for the higher widow’s rate. ( See # 4)
- When your husband or x-husband dies, you are due a widow’s benefit – Widow’s will receive between 71% at the age of 60 and 100% at full retirement age of what the husband was getting before he died. The widow would first get her own benefit and then supplement it with whatever extra benefits they receive as a widow. Social Security will also pay a onetime death benefit of $255 if you were living with your husband when he died. If the woman made more money than her husband, he might be due widower’s benefits if you were to die before he does.
- If divorced and were married at least 10 years, women are eligible for some of your ex-husband’s Social Security benefit. Some women sign divorce decrees relinquishing their rights to Social Security on their ex-husband’s record. If married for at least 10 years, those clauses in divorce decrees are worthless and are never enforced. Any benefits paid to a divorced spouse DO NOT reduce the payments made to the ex-spouse or any payments that are due to the ex’s current spouse.
If you have any further questions in regards to the above social security benefits, please contact our office or call your local social security office.