More things every woman should know about Social Security

If you are married, you might be due benefits on your husband’s record. ‘ Most women are potentially due two benefits: your own retirement benefit and a wife’s benefit on your husband’s record. ‘ But you only get the one that pays the higher rate, not both. ‘ Generally, a wife is due between one-third and one-half of her husband’s Social Security, depending on the age that she starts receiving it. ‘ Most working women who reach retirement age get their own Social Security benefit, because it’s more than one-third to one-half of the husband’s rate. ‘ But if your husband dies before you, you can apply for the higher widow’s rate. When your husband dies, you’re probably due a widow’s benefit. ‘ Widows are due between 71 percent (at age 60) and 100 percent (at full retirement age) of what the husband was getting before he died. ‘ If you’re also due your own Social Security, you’ll have the option of getting a reduced benefit on one record and later switching to a higher benefit on the other record. ‘ We also can pay you a $255 one-time death benefit if you were living with your husband when he died. ‘ If you made more money than your husband did, then he might be due a widower’s benefit on your record if you die before he does. If you’re divorced and were married at least 10 years, you might be eligible for benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record. ‘ Divorced women married at least 10 years are eligible for Social Security on the ex-husband’s record if they are unmarried at the time they become eligible for Social Security and if their own retirement benefits are less. ‘ Some women sign divorce decrees relinquishing their rights to Social Security on their ex-husband’s record. Those clauses in divorce decrees are worthless and are never enforced. If you meet the requirement for Social Security divorced wife’s benefits, you can apply for and receive those benefits regardless of the terms if the divorce decree. ‘ Any benefits paid to a divorced spouse do not reduce payments made to the ex-husband or any payments due the ex-husband’s current spouse. ‘ Generally, the same payment rules apply to divorced wives and widows as to current wives and widows.

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