Women and Social Security

Women and Social Security

Your Social Security

Photo of Jane Yamamoto-Burigsay

Jane Yamamoto-Burigsay
Courtesy: Social Security Administration

Women’s Equality Day was Aug. 26, which makes this a good time to remind you how much Social Security values and appreciates women. Even though men and women with identical earnings histories receive the same benefits, there are things women, in particular, should know about Social Security. There are trends and differences in lifestyle and patterns of earnings that can affect benefits.

For example, some women may be caregivers for many people — spouses, children and parents. Taking time away from the workplace to care for a newborn child, ailing spouse or aging parent can have an impact on your future Social Security benefits.

Also, despite significant strides through the years, women are still more likely to earn less over their lifetime than men. In addition, women are less likely than men to be covered by private retirement plans, so they are more dependent on Social Security in their retirement years.

Did you know that women tend to live, on average, about five years longer than men? This means more years of depending on Social Security and whatever other retirement income or savings they accumulate.

If a woman’s spouse earns significantly more than she does, it is very possible that she will qualify for a larger benefit based on her spouse’s record amount than on her own. To learn more, visit our Women’s page at www.socialsecurity.gov/women and read, print or learn about our publication, What Every Woman Should Know.

You may also be interested in listening to Carolyn Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security, on National Public Radio as she talks about women and money. Just visit this link. To celebrate Women’s Equality Day, learn how Social Security treats men and women equally by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/women.

Jane Yamamoto-Burigsay is Social Security’s public affairs specialist in Hawai‘i.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

GENERAL

Question: I recently got married and need to change my name in Social Security’s records. What must I do?

Answer: If you change your name due to marriage, or for any other reason, you must report the change and get a corrected Social Security card with your new name. You will need to fill out Form SS-5. You can download a copy of this form by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/ss5doc or by calling our toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). You must also provide the original marriage certificate showing your new and old names. You can mail or take the documentation to your local Social Security office. In some cases, we may need other forms of documentation, as well. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

Question: Do I have to give my Social Security number whenever I’m asked?

Answer: No. Giving your Social Security number is voluntary. If requested, you should ask why the person needs your Social Security number, how it will be used, what law requires you to give your number and what the consequences are if you refuse. The answers to these questions can help you decide whether or not to give your Social Security number. The decision, however, is yours. Keep in mind that requestors might not provide you their services if you refuse to provide your Social Security number. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs to read or print our publication, Your Social Security Number And Card.

RETIREMENT

Question: Will my retirement benefits increase if I wait and retire after my full retirement age?

Answer: Yes. You can increase your Social Security retirement benefit in two ways:

  • You can increase your retirement benefit by a certain percentage if you delay receiving retirement benefits. We will add these increases automatically from the time you reach full retirement age until you start receiving benefits or reach age 70; and
  • If you work, each additional year you work adds another year of earnings to your Social Security record. Higher lifetime earnings may result in higher benefits when you do retire.

For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs to read, print or listen to our publication, When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits. You can also use our Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator to determine your estimated future benefits.

Jane Yamamoto-Burigsay is Social Security’s public affairs specialist in Hawai‘i.

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