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The importance of social security for senior women

Jul 27, 2012, 6 a.m.

Social Security income can play a big role in how comfortable senior women can afford to live during their retirement years. Retirees are eligible to start receiving Social Security benefits between the ages of 62 and 67, but it varies, and actually depends on several factors. All senior women have to do to receive these benefits is file with the local Social Security Administration office. They will process all of the paperwork, check your eligibility, determine the maximum Social Security income, and most importantly, get the checks started.

Social Security income is an important issue for most seniors, but especially women. It may sound odd that women are affected more if they don't receive the maximum Social Security income, but here are a few reasons why Social Security is so different for women and men. For starters, women tend to live longer. Next, women have lower lifetime earnings than men do. And finally, women reach retirement age with much smaller pensions (if any) and typically much less assets than men do. This combination of factors means that a senior woman relies so much more on Social Security benefits, and unfortunately there is typically so much less money for them to rely on.

A main source or supplement of income for senior women includes payments from Social Security and since women tend to live longer, they have a need for more years of support. In fact, elderly women live an average of six more years as retirees than men, so it is crucial that they receive the maximum Social Security income allowed during this time.

Receiving the maximum Social Security income is important to women because they actually represent almost 60% of all Social Security beneficiaries age 62 and older, and almost 70% of beneficiaries over the age of 85. In addition to retiring, there are other ways senior women can collect benefits from Social Security and women should know that if they are widows, they may be able to collect their spouse's benefits.

You may or may not be aware, but Social Security benefits are based on the amount of money you earn during your working years. The more you earn, the more you receive from Social Security, and women in the past earned far less than men did, netting them much less Social Security benefits to fund their retirement years.

Although we assume that most retirees nowadays have some sort IRA or savings plan, the Social Security Administration indicates that in 2010 Social Security comprised 49% of the total income for unmarried women age 65 and older. In addition, an alarming 48% of all elderly unmarried women receiving Social Security benefits relied on Social Security for 90% or more of their household income.

Today women are actively planning their retirement and participating more in employer sponsored retirement plans to ensure they are comfortable during their retirement years. Currently however, senior women are much more likely to rely on Social Security and women are less likely to have income from pension plans to fall back on, making these benefits crucial to a stress free retirement for many senior women.

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