Social Security pt 2

Social Security—a Guide for Women, part 2

By Karen A. Miller, CFP®, CFPA


As we discussed in part 1, Social Security is an important benefit. And understanding when and how to elect can impact your benefits permanently. In addition to your full retirement age (FRA) and potential life expectancy, there are a few other things you should consider before making your election choices.

Do you plan to work?

Some women not only need to work in retirement, many want to—often trying new careers or new business ventures to keep them active and engaged. While this is an individual choice, it can impact your benefits. If you plan to continue working, your benefits could be significantly reduced if you elect them early due to the “earnings test.” Here is how that can work:



Age 62 to year of FRA

Year of FRA

After FRA

If you earn more than



Any amount

Amount withheld

$1 for every $2 you earn above the income limit

$1 for every $3 you earn above the income limit

$0 no matter how much you earn


Are you or have you been married?

Another consideration is your marital status. Because married couples are entitled to have two Social Security benefit streams, it may be wise to review the benefits together to determine who should potentially claim early, on time, or late. It’s worth noting that even if you have not worked, you are still entitled to claim “spousal” benefits.


And, if you were married for more than 10 years, divorced and have not remarried, you are still able to claim spousal benefits (even if the ex has remarried). Spousal benefits:

  • Are typically 50% of the other spouse’s full benefit at FRA
  • May be more than an individual benefit
  • Cannot be collected until the first spouse elects their benefits (unless you are divorced)
  • Will be permanently reduced if the individual OR spouse elects benefits early
  • Cannot be increased by waiting beyond FRA to elect

Gasber Financial is here to help you navigate your Social Security choices so you can create a truly comprehensive retirement income plan.