Showing posts with label social security benefits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label social security benefits. Show all posts

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Social Security Decisions are Complicated!

Many people assume that when they reach their early to mid-60's, they will simply quit their jobs, start collecting Social Security and the whole process will be fairly predictable.  In fact, this is actually what the vast majority of people do.  Sometimes it works out; sometimes people have regrets, especially when they learn that their friends are receiving a lot more money than they are.  Making the right choices about Social Security actually involves some of the most complex decisions you will make in your lifetime.

No one likes to make a costly and embarrassing mistake.  It is easy to do, however, when you consider that there are actually 2700 rules that will affect your benefits.  What are some of the decisions you need to make?  Should the breadwinner in your family collect as soon as they turn 62, wait until their full retirement age of 66 - 67, or postpone receiving their benefits until the maximum age of 70? At what age should the spouse, and ex-spouses, apply for their benefits?  Should you take the "file and suspend" option?  Do you even know what that is?

After reading several books on the subject, I realized that I would have to write dozens of articles on Social Security, and keep them updated, in order to even come close to providing the helpful information that is available in this book:  "Social Security Income Planning: The Baby Boomer's Guide to Maximize Your Retirement Benefits."  (Use this link to see the book on

This book takes you through virtually all of the different options you have and the advantages and disadvantages of each.  It also explains how to invest your investment savings in such a way that you will minimize the income taxes you will pay on your retirement income.

Make sure you read the most recent edition of this or any other retirement book that you order.  Several significant laws changed at the beginning of 2016.  For example, the File and Suspend option is no longer available to couples ... a program that substantially increased the retirement income of many couples in the past.

After looking over the different books that have been written about Social Security, I felt that this was the most comprehensive and up-to-date book I could find.  Whether you are getting ready to retire in a few years or you are decades away, this book will help you make the decisions that are right for you.

Whether you read this book, a different one, or order all the available government brochures that explain Social Security, you owe it to yourself to thoroughly research what you want to do BEFORE you stop working and start collecting.  After that, it is really too late.

Since Social Security benefits make up the largest part of the retirement plans for the majority of people, this is not an area you want to neglect.  There are many legal tricks you can use to maximize your benefits ... and the employees of the Social Security Administration are not allowed to tell you about them.  All they will do is implement your benefits when you ask them to.

You may also want to use the tabs at the top of this blog for links to hundreds of articles about where to retire in the United States or abroad, medical issues that may come up as you age, family issues and more financial planning ideas.

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Friday, August 30, 2013

When to Take Your Social Security Early

As most readers of this blog know, I am a big proponent of waiting as long as possible before you begin to take your Social Security benefits.  This is because the longer you wait, the larger your check will be each month.  This has always seemed like an easy, clear-cut decision for me, and I often wondered why intelligent people I knew were choosing to take their benefits early.

Recently, in a conversation with one of my friends, I realized that waiting to take your benefits until you are age 66 or older is not the best business decision for everyone.  In fact, for many people, it can be a much better financial decision to take your benefits early.  If you need to stop working before you reach age 66, it can take ten to twelve years to make up for the money you would lose by going without Social Security for a couple of years.  In fact, as result of this conversation and a meeting I had at the Social Security office, I have actually decided to go ahead and apply for my benefits at age 64.

Reasons to Take Social Security Early

1.  In my situation, my husband has a serious illness which may shorten his life.  Although we hope he will live many more years, if he does die before me I will receive Social Security widow's benefits based on his earnings.  Meanwhile, since I recently retired from a job at age 64, I can go ahead and collect my own benefits now, which will amount to about 42 percent of my husband's Social Security.  We decided together that there was no reason to postpone my benefits for two years, during which time I would have lost over $24,000, since it would take more than a decade for us to make up that amount of money from the slightly increased benefits I would have received by waiting.  In other words, if the family breadwinner is in poor health, it may be wise for the spouse to begin collecting benefits as soon as possible.  If my husband manages to live another 15 or 20 years with his illness, we might regret the decision.  However, that was a risk we were willing to take.

2.  Even if there is no spouse involved, you may be wise to take your Social Security benefits early if you do not expect to live until your late 70's or early 80's.  Many people with a debilitating chronic illness may choose to make this choice.  Although you will receive a smaller payment when you collect early, you could receive the payments for many more years.  According to estimates by the Social Security Administration, a person who begins to collect at age 62 will receive payments that are only about half as large as a person who waits until they are 70 years old.  However, because they will receive benefits for eight additional years, the break-even point will occur in their late 70's.  If your health makes it likely that you will not live until your late 70's, then you may receive more in total earnings by collecting early.  In addition, if you don't need to use all the money in your early 60's and you invest some of it, the break even age may even be older.

3.  Some people may also decide to take their benefits early because of lifestyle choices.  For example, if they want to travel or pursue a second career, taking their benefits early may make it possible for them to pursue their goals while they are still young enough to enjoy the experience.  However, in this case it is important for people to realize that they are making a life-long decision.  Once they are tired of traveling or pursuing the second career, they cannot go back and ask for more money.  This choice is more risky than the ones mentioned above that were based on life expectancy.  If you are healthy and live a long time, you may end up regretting your decision to collect your benefits early, since your income will be so low.

4.  A fourth legitimate reason why some people may choose to take their Social Security benefits early is when unemployment or illness leaves them with no other income options.  In many cases, people are grateful that they have earned these benefits so that they have some source of income when it is no longer possible for them to earn money any other way.  Of course, most financial planners still recommend that people rely on some other source of income, if at all possible, and postpone collecting their Social Security as long as possible.  If they do this, the income they receive later may be even more meaningful.  However, if you have no other choice, you may be grateful that you have the money available.

No matter when you decide to collect your Social Security benefits, between the ages of 62 and 70, you need to do research and talk to representatives in the Social Security office before making a final decision.  Everyone's situation is different.  Do not base your decision on what your friends are doing.  Finally, despite the reasons I gave above for collecting early, if you can postpone collecting for a few years, it is still the best decision for many people.


If you are planning your retirement, you may also want to check out the index articles below.  Each of them contains links to a variety of articles on that topic:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

How to Collect Social Security and Retire Overseas

If you are thinking about retiring to another country, one of your concerns may be how to get Social Security overseas.  First, I want to assure you that it is possible to receive your benefits and that many Americans around the world are living comfortable lives on their American Social Security benefits.  However, you will want to check everything out carefully to avoid any unnecessary complications before you make the commitment to move to another country.

Key Points to Know About Collecting Social Security Abroad

The Social Security Administration will provide you with their Publication No. 05-10137 entitled "Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States."  You can get it on the Social Security Administration website at  I suggest you read it carefully and I am not going to attempt to rewrite the entire brochure in this post.  However, here are some of the key points you will need to know:

You can get your benefits in nearly any other country, although there may be special procedures you will have to follow.  For example, if you are in certain countries you will have to go to the U.S. Embassy or consulate to pick up your checks.

Currently, you cannot receive payments if you move to Cuba, North Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam or some of the countries that make up the former Soviet Union.

Retirees who move to Armenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia can receive their checks, but they fall into the category of places where you will need to pick up your checks at an embassy or consulate office.

The list of countries that have these restrictions changes from time to time.  You can always get the most curent information on the Social Security website.  If you are moving to a location that has had a checkered relationship with the U.S. government, you will want to contact your local Social Security office and investigate how you will receive your benefits before you make the move.

If you move to another country and get dual citizenship in that country, while retaining your U.S. citizenship, you can continue to collect your benefits.  There is also a long list of countries on the site where you can become a citizen of that country alone and still receive your U.S. benefits; examples that fall into this category are Austria, Canada, France, Israel, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom.  If you are considering becoming a citizen of another country and dropping your U.S. citizenship, you will want to check the Social Security website first to make sure the country where you will be living is on the approved list.

Survivor and Dependent Benefits

If you are receiving your Social Security benefits as a dependent or you are getting widow's survivor benefits, it is possible that you will not be able to continue to collect those benefits if you continue to live overseas after the primary beneficiary dies.  There are special requirements that you will need to meet and you should check with the Social Security office to make sure you meet these requirements.

Direct Deposits vs. Checks

While you are living in another country, you can arrange to have your payments deposited in a bank in the United States or in the country where you are now living.  There are advantages to having direct deposits that go into a U.S. dollar account, since you can avoid currency conversion and other fees.

Income Taxes on Your Benefits

Your benefits are subject to the same taxes you would have to pay if you lived in the United States.  The amount of taxes you will pay depends on the amount of other income you have.  If you are living on Social Security alone, you will probably not owe any taxes on your income.  If you have tax free income, such as distributions from a Roth IRA, you will probably not have to pay.  However, if you are receiving distributions from a traditional IRA or income from other taxable sources, your benefits could be subject to Federal income tax laws.

In general, Social Security benefits from the United States are tax free in many other countries as long as we have a tax treaty with that country.  If you live in a country without a tax treaty, your benefits might be taxed by that government.  In addition, if you have become a citizen of another country, you may be expected to pay taxes to the government of that country.  You will want to investigate the tax consequences of any move to another country.

Reporting Requirements

When you live in another country and collect your U.S. benefits, you need to keep the Social Security Administration informed of changes in your family status such as a marriage, adoption of a child, a child who becomes 18,  a child who is or becomes disabled, an annulment or divorce, a change of address, and similar events that could affect your eligibility or the eligibility of your dependents.  The SSA will send you a questionnaire periodically.  However, if there are changes, you should not wait until the next questionnaire to report them.


You will not be covered by Medicare in another country.  If you do choose to sign up for Medicare, it will only provide you with coverage when you are in the U.S.  However, you may still want to sign up while you are living abroad because your premiums will go up by 10% a year for each year you remained out of the U.S. and were not enrolled.  If you come back to the U.S. in your later years, your Medicare premiums will be substantially higher if you have not been paying them all along.  The decision is up to you, but it is something you should consider when you turn 65.

It is not unusual for people to decide to go ahead and have their Medicare premiums deducted from their Social Security checks and, in addition, buy an insurance policy in the new country where they are living.  In many cases, medical insurance is quite inexpensive in other countries.  In this way, the retirees are covered in their new country and they have basic Medicare coverage when they are visiting family in the U.S.  They also will be able to keep the lowest Medicare premiums if they choose to return to the U.S. permanently.

If you are currently making retirement plans, you may also want to read other posts from this blog.  They are listed and linked in the index articles below:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement


Social Security Administration Publication No. 05-10137 "Your Payments While You Are Outside the United States"

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

Since the beginning of this blog, a number of posts have been written about money and financial planning for retirement.   In fact, these posts have been among the most popular that I have researched and written.  The posts, linked below, include topics such as how to construct an annuity ladder, how to access your social security information, how much money you need to retire, choosing an executor of your will, and ways to earn money after retirement.

In addition, the article links below will help you access information on long-term care insurance, budgeting, financial facts about baby boomers, scams that are directed against senior citizens, and more.

Index of Financial Articles on the Baby Boomer Retirement Blog

2014 Social Security Raise Expected to be Tiny

Age Deadlines for Retirement Planning

Alternatives to Long Term Care Insurance

Amazon Savings Tips - How to Save Money Shopping Online

Are You Too Young for Retirement Planning?

Average Retirement Age in the US for Boomers

Awesome Work-From-Home Jobs

Be Careful at Black Friday Sales

Be Prepared for Emergencies

Best Companies Offering Jobs for Seniors

Beware Coronavirus Scams: Fraud is Increasing

Beware of Advance Pension Loans

Beware of Collectible Gold Coin Investments

Budgeting for Your Golden Years

Camper and RV Travel Jobs - How to Survive Financially on the Road

Casinos Encourage Gambling Addiction in Senior Citizens

Charitable Deductions and U.S. Estate Taxes

Choose a Financial Planner or Advisor with Experience 

Choosing an Executor of Your Will 

College Scholarship Tips for Grandchildren

Common Problems with Inherited Homes

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for Older Americans

Credit Scores and Retirement 

Crimes Against the Elderly

Crimes Against Senior Citizens 

Handling Your Money and Bills in Retirement - How to Find Help

Hidden Costs in Assisted Living Facilities

Housing Costs Put Retirement at Risk

How Much Retirement Income will You Have? 

How to Access Your Social Security Information Online 

How to Avoid Poverty for Single Women Retirees

How to Build an Annuity Ladder

How to Choose a Good Investment Adviser

How to Downsize Without Moving and Earn Money Too!

How to Draw Down Retirement Assets

How to Choose a Financial Advisor 

How to Find Jobs Late in Life 

How to Fix Your Retirement Savings Shortfall

How to Increase Your Retirement Income

How to Manage Your Retirement Funds Yourself

How to Pass On Your Digital Assets When You Die

How to Prepare Financially for Retirement 

How to Publish Your Autobiography for Free 

How to Report a Scam or Fraud

If Grandkids Call for Money - Grandparent Scam 

Important Medicare Tips for Boomers

Important Dates for Baby Boomers in 2014 

Investigate Exchange Rates Before Moving Overseas 

Is it Time to Retire?  

Jobs for Workers Over 50

Keeping Track of New IRA Rules

Keep the Holidays Affordable 

Living on Social Security in the US 

Low Investment Costs on Retirement Funds can Save You Money 

Make Your Money Last the Rest of Your Life

Maximize Your Social Security Benefits for an Easier Retirement 


Senior Discounts - Use Them Wherever You Go

Seniors Embrace Technology and Smartphones

Seniors - Save Money on Almost Everything!

Sexism After Retirement 

Share Your Experience and Make Money on InfoBarrel

Shocking Financial Facts about Retirement

Shop Online Safely and Conveniently

Short on Retirement Savings 

Should You Retire with a Mortgage? 

Should You Rollover Your 401(k) Into an IRA?

Should You Use a Robot Money Management Advisor? 

Simplifying Your Life for Retirement 

Social Security and Remarriage 

Social Security Benefit Changes (2016)

Social Security Changes in 2013

SSI - Supplemental Security Income - Do You Qualify? 

Start an Online Business for Retirement Income

Stop Scammers, Stop Fraud and Report It - Learn How! 

Ten Ways to Make Money After Retirement

The Fifteen Most Popular Retirement Stories of 2013

The Free Cancer Screening SCAM - Do Not Fall For It!

The Retirement Income Red Zone

Top Retirement Posts of 2018 

Top Retirement Posts of 2019 - Health, Dementia and Money on the Minds of Retirees

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Maximize Your Social Security Benefits for an Easier Retirement

If you are dreaming of a more financially secure retirement, there are actions that even the average person can take to dramatically increase their Social Security benefits and make their retirement years much easier.

Many Retirees Earn Low Benefits

As mentioned before in this blog, the average American receives less than $1300 a month in benefits, according to Social Security Administration records.  In addition, approximately $104 a month will be deducted from that amount for those retirees who are also on Medicare.  In 2016, the Medicare deduction could increase to about $123 a month or more for many people, despite the fact that they will not receive an increase in Social Security benefits. 

The result of this is that many individuals will receive less than $1177 a month in benefits after Medicare is deducted; and the average couple will only receive about $2354 a month.  If this is not enough to cover your expenses, there is no reason why you have to accept the average payout as inevitable.  There are definite actions you can take during your working years that can make a significant difference after retirement.

How Your Benefits are Calculated

Did you know that the Social Security Administration calculates your benefits based on your 35 highest earning working years?  If you worked less than 35 years, this means that you may have a number of years with zero income averaged into your work history.  The more years you report an income, the better off you will be in retirement.   If you have worked 35 years, but earned very little income for some of them, replacing those low earning years with more recent years of work at a higher income will also make a difference.

For the same reason, there is a definite Social Security disadvantage for self-employed people who have routinely reduced their reported income by using the maximum number of deductions.  Before you retire, you want to have reported income for as many years as possible and you want to report all your income.  In the long run, you will benefit from this decision, especially if you live a long life.

Advantages of Delaying the Age When You Collect Your Benefits

In addition, if at all possible you do not want to begin to collecting your Social Security benefits until you are at least your full retirement age of about 66 or 67, depending on your current age.  Although you are allowed to begin receiving benefits as early as age 62, you will be paid approximately 25 percent less in benefits for the remainder of your life!  If you become a widow, even your survivor's benefits will be decreased.  If you can postpone receiving your benefits until you are age 70, your benefits will increase by 8 percent for each year you postpone filing after your full retirement age.

Advantage of Continuing to Work After You Begin Collecting Your Benefits

There is another way to increase your Social Security benefits.  You may decide that you will continue to work for a few years, even after you have begun to collect your benefits.  Not only will you receive annual cost of living increases when everyone else does, you may also receive an additional increase in benefits each year because you will continue to pay into the system.  The Social Security Administration recalculates your benefits each year based on the SSI taxes you paid during the previous year. This recalculation increases what you will receive now and in the future.

There are other strategies that have helped many people maximize their benefits.  You may want to order one of the Social Security books from that will help you figure out if there are other strategies that will work for you.

Everyone should also make an appointment with their local Social Security Administration office to ask questions and get more information to help them decide which strategies make the most sense for them.  We have found most employees to be knowledgeable and helpful (although we have received a few incorrect answers on occasion).  In addition, you may want to use one of the online calculators, such as AARP's Social Security Benefits Calculator, in order to estimate what your earnings would be under different scenarios.

If you are interested in learning how to maximize your finances after retirement, you may also be interested in reading these articles:

Do You Need a Million Dollars to Retire?
Cheap Places to Retire
Women and Social Security
Financial Facts Affecting Baby Boomers in 2013

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Social Security Changes in 2013

Moderately good news was announced recently for retirees who are already receiving their Social Security benefits.  Your Social Security benefits are expected to increase by about 1.7% beginning in January, 2013.  If you are working and receiving Social Security benefits at the same time, the size of your check should increase even more than this because of the increased premiums you have been paying into the system during the past year.

The 1.7% increase is not as much as the 3.6% cost of living adjustment that was received in 2012.  However, since Social Security recipients did not receive any cost of living increase in either 2010 or 2011, it is helpful to be getting any increase at all this coming year.

There are other changes to Social Security that we can expect in 2013 that will affect both those who are working and paying into the system, as well as those who are already retired.

Other Social Security Changes in 2013

Unless the government takes steps to change it, the temporary payroll tax cut will expire at the end of this year, meaning that workers will once again return to paying 6.2 % of their income for Social Security, rather than the 4.2 percent that we have been paying for the past couple of years.  For many workers, this will mean a substantial decrease in the amount of their take-home pay.

Another change will affect people who are retired and collecting Social Security benefits but who are younger than their full retirement age (approximately about age 66).  If they are still working and collecting their reduced Social Security benefits at the same time, they will be able to earn $480 more next year before their Social Security benefits are reduced.  In other words, they can earn $15,120 rather than the current amount of $14,640 before their benefits are reduced.  Once retirees reach full retirement age, they can work, earn as much money as they want, and receive their full benefits without a penalty.

Another change that will benefit some retirees is that the maximum possible monthly benefit for someone who waits until their full retirement age to collect their Social Security benefits will increase to $2,533 a month.

Finally, everyone needs to be aware that, as of March 1, 2013, the Social Security Administration will no longer mail out paper checks.  Instead, beneficiaries can choose to either have their payments deposited directly into a bank account, or their funds will be loaded onto a Direct Express Debit MasterCard.  Doing away with paper checks will save the government money and provide a safer way for people to receive their benefits.

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Bit of Good News About Social Security

Do you think Social Security is
Many people have heard for so long that the Social Security Administration is broke, that a substantial number of people believe that no benefits will be paid in the near future.  However, according to AARP and government estimates, this is not actually true.  In fact, this is one of the common myths about Social Security that needs to be dispelled.

The Truth about Social Security

First, although changes do need to be made if Social Security is going to be able to fully pay all the promised benefits for the next 100 years, there are a number of proposals under consideration that would solve these issues and fully fund the Social Security trust funds for the future.  When people say that "there will be nothing left when I retire," they are actually misinformed.

The Social Security trust fund can continue to pay full benefits until 2037, and about 75% of promised benefits after that ... and this is true even if they do absolutely nothing to solve the projected Social Security deficit. In even this worst case scenario, there may not be as much money available as we have been promised, but there will certainly be benefits paid to everyone who has earned them.  In addition, with a few little tweeks, such as raising the cap on the wages that are subject to the Social Security payroll tax, the shortage could be avoided and there could be enough money to meet all the promised future obligations.  One way or another, Social Security will be there when you retire, although you may not receive as much as you hoped.  In truth, most people cannot live on Social Security alone anyway.  Everyone should be saving as a way to supplement what Social Security does provide.

Few People Could Produce Better a Higher Income Than Social Security

Second, many people believe they could invest the money better themselves.  There is nothing preventing these people from investing some of their income in a 401(k) or IRA and seeing if this is true.  The truth is that very few people have managed to invest their money in such a way that they can get the return that Social Security will provide them.  However, it is highly recommended that everyone put aside as much money as possible in their own retirement accounts so they can have a more comfortable retirement than they could manage on Social Security alone.

Social Security is meant to provide a base of income for everyone who has worked during their adult life.  They receive this money whether or not they are able to invest their own money well.  Currently, Social Security provides the majority of retirement income for at least 1/2 of Americans over the age of 65.  In fact, it provides 90% of the income for single senior citizens.  If the government stopped collecting Social Security taxes and eliminated Social Security benefits, most of these people would end up on other government programs, such as welfare, and general taxes would have to be raised to cover those services.  Social Security works, and works well, for people who have worked hard all their lives and deserve a secure pension.

The Future of Social Security

Personally, I was relieved to read this information that was provided by AARP and based on government estimates.  I know that Social Security will be important to me and to other family members when I retire, and I encourage the government to take steps to keep the program healthy and capable of providing all the promised benefits. 

However, even if the current Congress fails to act responsibly, I am relieved to know that the program can keep going on some level until we have some responsible legislators who will make sure the program is solvent.

Meanwhile, I encourage you to write your Congressman and make your feelings known.

If you are interested in learning more about financial planning for retirement, where to retire, health issues or family relationships, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page.  They contain links to hundreds of additional articles.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2012 Social Security Benefit Increase

Finally!  An increase is coming to
Social Security Benefits.
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Good news for recipients of Social Security.  After having gone without any increase in benefits since January, 2009, the Social Security Administration has announced that recipients will receive an increase of approximately 3.6% in January, 2012.  Since the average Social Security payment is $1,082, a 3.6% increase averages out to almost $39 a month.  It will vary, depending on whether you get more or less than the average amount of money.  The increase will apply to both retirees and disabled recipients.

I have a number of friends and neighbors who have been living on a fixed income the past few years.  Several of them are either totally dependent on Social Security, or it makes up a large part of their income.  This increase, although small, will provide them with some help. 

The reason that there has been no increase during the past two years is because the official rate of inflation was considered too small.  Only twice since 1975 have Social Security recipients gone without a Cost of Living Increase ... and that was in the past two years.

It is important to also note that the increase in benefits will be partially lost because Medicare premiums are expected to increase by around $3 to $8, and these premiums are deducted from Social Security payments.

Continue to stay up to date with your retirement planning.  You may be interested in following this blog by email, or reading the articles listed in the sidebars.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Women and Social Security

No matter what your age, women need to understand how Social Security works.  For most women, Social Security will play a major role in how much money they will have available once they reach their 60's.  Since you will have some important decisions to make when you begin to collect Social Security, it is very important that you have all the necessary information, so that you make the best possible decisions and maximize your income.  Below are some of the basic facts that you need to know. 

For more personal details about your specific situation, you may want to visit your nearest Social Security office, or read more online at

Facts about Social Security for Women

The first thing you should know is that you can collect your Social Security benefits any time between the ages of 62 and 70 (or even at a younger age, if you are a widow.)  However, the younger you are when you begin to collect, the less money you will receive for the rest of your life.  As a result, many women are smart to postpone collecting their Social Security benefits until they are at least 66.  However, the decision is completely up to you.  If you are ill, cannot work, or desperate for money, you may feel that your situation forces you to collect your benefits sooner.

If you did not earn very much income during your lifetime, you can still collect some Social Security benefits based on your husband's earnings.  This is true even if you are divorced, as long as the two of you were married at least 10 years and you have not remarried.  At your full retirement age (around the age of 66 or 67), you can receive 50% of what your husband receives at his full retirement age.  You will need to compare whether you are better off using your own benefits, based on your own past earnings or whether you would collect more money by receiving half of your husband's benefits.

On the other hand, if you earned more than your husband, then it is possible for him to receive benefits based on your earnings.  The helpful consultants at the Social Security office can help you decide how you can collect the maximum benefits.

You will also be eligible for Medicare once you turn 65, whether your Social Security and Medicare benefits are based on your own earnings or those of your husband.  Medicare will withdraw a premium of about $104 from your Social Security benefits in order to pay for your basic Medicare healthcare.  You may want this used to pay for a Medicare Advantage plans that has more benefits or you may wish to purchase a Medicare Supplement plan in addition to the basic Medicare plan.

If your husband dies, you can collect widow's Social Security benefits.  The amount varies depending on when you begin to collect.  If you wait until your full retirement age, you can collect as much as 100% of what your husband would have collected. 

There are many other factors concerning Social Security that could affect when you decide to collect.  Be sure to check with your local Social Security office as soon as you begin planning your retirement.

It is important for everyone to understand their Social Security benefits, but especially women, because so many American women spend the last few years of their lives in poverty.  You do not want this to happen to you, if you can avoid it.

If you are interested in more retirement information, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this article to find links to hundreds of additional articles about financial planning, including Social Security, where to retire, medical issues that could arise, family relationships and more.

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