2004-04-15 / Other News

Social Security

Steve Beck
Work History Is What Counts For Your Benefits
Social Security Steve Beck Work History Is What Counts For Your Benefits

Steve Beck Work History Is What Counts For Your Benefits

Whenever I talk before groups of affected by this than men? Well, it’s working women, one question always not news that women are more likely, comes up. Why, I’m asked, do women often get less than men from Social Security when they retire? Especially since, as some women note, they make more money than many men.

The answer usually comes down to this: Social Security is based on how many years you worked, as well as how much you earned while working.

When it’s time for you to apply retirement benefits, Social Security will look at the highest 35 years of earnings to determine your basic benefit payment. For example, if you started working at 18 and worked every year. Security until you were 66, you would have 48 years of earnings. Social Security would adjust-those earnings for inflation and take the highest 35.

What if you don’t have 35 years of work? Well, you only need 10 years of working and paying Social Security taxes to qualify for retirement benefits. But if you don’t have 35 years of work, then we use a zero for each nonwork menting year when we do our calculations.

Why are women more likely to be affected by this than men? Well, it’s not news that women are more likely to take time off from careers to care for children... or for older relatives. Women, in fact, average about 27 years in the workforce before retiring, while men avarage 39 years. Eight years of zeros can make a big difference.

It’s also true that women are much more likely to have part-time jobs than men. And while a woman working part time may earn an hourly wage that is higer than a malw employee, her annual, wages may be less.

We always encourage folks to start early in planning for their retirement and figuring out where the money they will need maight come form. The Social Security Statement that is sent to you each year is a great place to begin. It show how much you and your family can expect to receive form Social Security when you retire or become disabled or die.

But women also need to know how career choices might affect their future Social Security benefits, as well as widowhood or divorce.

When you visit www.ssa.gov/ women, you’ll find information on all of the issues that you need to think about. We also can help you plan for retirement, show you how to calculate your benefits and how to file for benefits online.

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