If you can recall the 1968 advertising slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby,” you’re likely starting to think about your Social Security benefits. With women accounting for nearly 50 percent of the U.S. workforce, it’s important to understand the basic rules that will affect the amount of your Social Security benefit when you become eligible.
From a retirement professional’s experience, here are the top five things you need to know:
1. Nothing keeps you from receiving your own Social Security benefit.
If you’ve worked for at least 10 years, and earned a minimum of 40 work credits, you’re eligible for your own Social Security benefit whether you’re single or married. For married women, this rule applies whether or not your husband is receiving Social Security or if he chooses to work beyond full retirement age.
However, if you’re also eligible for a pension from a job in which you didn’t pay Social Security taxes (a civil service or teacher’s pension, for example), your Social Security benefit may be reduced. In the event you become disabled before full retirement age, you may qualify for disability benefits if you paid Social Security taxes in five of the preceding 10 years.
2. There is no marriage penalty or limit to benefits paid to a married couple.
A working woman is not limited to one-half of her husband’s Social Security benefit. This rule only applies to women who have never worked outside the home.
You and your husband will each receive your own Social Security benefit. For example, if your monthly Social Security benefit is $1,200, and your husband’s is $1,400, as a couple you will receive $2,600 per month in total benefits.
See also: Assets or income: What do retirees need?
3. If you’re due two benefits, you get the one that pays the higher rate, not both.
Most working women are potentially eligible for two Social Security benefits: your own and the spousal benefit on your husband’s record. You’ll receive the higher benefit of the two but not both.