Courtesy: Social Security Administration
March was Women’s History Month. During the month, Social Security’s educational outreach focused not just on the achievements of women, but also on the challenges they continue to face in today’s world. In the 21st century, more women work, pay Social Security taxes and earn credit toward monthly retirement income than at any other time in our nation’s history. Knowing this, you can take control of your own rich and independent history with knowledge obtainable from Social Security.
Social Security has served a vital role in the lives of women for over 80 years. With longer life expectancies than men, women tend to live more years in retirement and have a greater chance of exhausting other sources of income. With the national average life expectancy for women in the United States rising, many women may have decades to enjoy retirement. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a female born today can expect to live more than 80 years. As a result, experts generally agree that if women want to ensure that their retirement years are comfortable, they need to plan early and wisely.
A great place to start is with Social Security’s Retirement Estimator. It gives you a personalized estimate of your retirement benefits. Plug in different retirement ages and receive projected earnings to get an idea of your future benefit amounts. You can use this valuable tool at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.
You should also visit Social Security’s financial planning website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners. It provides detailed information about how marriage, widowhood, divorce, self-employment, government service and other life or career events can affect your Social Security.
Your benefits are based on your earnings, so you should create your personal my Social Security account to verify that your earnings were reported correctly. Your account also can provide estimates of your future retirement, disability and survivors benefits. You can access my Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
If you want more information about how Social Security supports women through life’s journey, Social Security has a booklet that you may find useful. It’s called Social Security: What Every Woman Should Know. You can find it online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10127.html.
Jane Yamamoto-Burigsay is Social Security’s public affairs specialist in Hawai‘i.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Question: I am receiving Social Security retirement benefits and recently went back to work. Do I have to pay Social Security (FICA) taxes on my income?
Answer: Yes. By law, your employer must withhold FICA taxes from your paycheck. Although you are retired, you do receive credit for those new earnings. Each year, Social Security automatically credits the new earnings: If your new earnings are higher than in any earlier year used to calculate your current benefit, your monthly benefit could increase. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov or call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
Question: My spouse died recently and my neighbor said my children and I might be eligible for survivors benefits. Don’t I have to be retirement age to receive benefits?
Answer: No. As a survivor, you can receive benefits at any age if you are caring for a child who is receiving Social Security benefits and who is under age 16. Your children are eligible for survivors benefits through Social Security until the age of 19 if they are unmarried and attending elementary or secondary school full-time. Keep in mind that you are still subject to the annual earnings limit if you are working. If you are not caring for minor children, you will need to wait until age 60 (age 50 if disabled) to collect survivors benefits. For more information about survivors benefits, read our publication Survivors Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.