Women and Social Security

By Vonda Van Til, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

More women work, pay Social Security taxes, and earn credit toward monthly retirement income in the 21st century than at any other time in our nation’s history.  Women, on average, also face greater economic challenges in retirement than men.

Women generally live longer than men while often having lower lifetime earnings.  Women may also reach retirement with smaller pensions and other assets compared to men.  These are two key reasons why Social Security is vitally important to women.

Women and men may receive benefits based on their own work record or their spouse’s.  If you are a woman and you’ve worked and paid taxes into the Social Security system for at least 10 years, and have earned a minimum of 40 work credits, you may be eligible for your own benefits. Once you reach age 62, you may be eligible for your own Social Security benefit whether you’re married or not and whether your spouse collects Social Security or not. If you’re eligible and apply for benefits on more than one work record, you generally receive the higher benefit amount.

It’s never too early or too late to start saving and planning for retirement. We have specific information for women at www.ssa.gov/people/women.  You can also read the publication What Every Woman Should Know at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10127.pdf.

Please share these links with friends and family.


Vonda Van Til is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.