At this point in history, it’s widely acknowledged that women consistently experience greater retirement challenges than men. Despite more women participating in the workforce, their average benefits tend to be lower than those of men due to the persistent gender pay gap. Additionally, the increase in divorce and decline in marriage rates means fewer women have the opportunity to claim spouse’s and survivor benefits, which can have a significant impact on their overall financial well-being during retirement.

An important part of your financial picture includes claiming Social Security retirement benefits. To understand your options and overcome the above barriers, keep in mind the following key points when planning to apply for Social Security benefits.

For the Single Women

Many women make the mistake of claiming Social Security as soon as they’re eligible. Few wait until full retirement age, and even fewer wait until age 70. But your benefit amount increases by 8% each year from 66 to 70, plus cost of living increases for inflation, so it pays to wait.

For example, let’s say your full retirement age is 66 and your monthly payment is estimated to be $2,000. The chart below shows how much you’d get every month if you started collecting at age 62 (reduced benefits), 66 (full benefits), and 70 (increased benefits).

If you start collecting benefits at this age… your monthly payout will be this much…
62 $1,500
66 $2,000
70 $2,640

Just by waiting until age 70, your monthly payout increases substantially, which could lead to thousands of more dollars throughout your retirement for you to invest or gift to others.

But when you should claim benefits isn’t as simple as waiting until age 70. Your health, home, and personal circumstances could indicate otherwise. Maybe you find out you have advanced-stage breast cancer, so you start taking benefits at age 62. Or maybe you are in good health and since you have plenty of other resources, so you wait until age 70. Tailoring your claiming strategy to your unique life circumstances is key, and a professional can help you take all factors into account.

For Those Who Are Divorced

This may come as a surprise, but divorcées can claim their ex-spouse’s benefits as long as they were married for at least 10 years. The amount you receive is equal to 50% of your ex’s benefits. If you qualify for your own benefits, you either receive 100% of your benefit amount or 50% of your ex’s, whichever is higher. The best part? Your ex never has to know you’re collecting spousal benefits. Social Security doesn’t notify them and you’re not required to reach out.

If your ex passes away, you receive benefits as a widow, which means you get 100% of your ex’s payout. There is one caveat to this rule, however. You won’t qualify for spousal benefits if you remarry. Your ex can, but you can’t. Although, if you happen to remarry and your second marriage ends in divorce or your spouse dies, you’d once again be eligible for your first spouse’s benefits.

For the Widows

Widows and divorcées who were married for at least a decade are eligible for survivor benefits when a spouse dies. Just keep in mind that you won’t qualify for survivor benefits if you remarry before age 60.

As with regular Social Security payouts, you receive reduced benefits if you claim them before you reach full retirement age. But unlike regular payouts, you don’t have to wait until you’re 70 to get the highest amount.

The chart below shows what percentage of survivor benefits you’d get based on your situation:

Widow Type Benefit Amount Before Retirement Age Benefit Amount at Full Retirement Age
Widow 71.5% to 99% (starting at age 60) 100%
Disabled Widow 71.5% (starting at age 50) 100%
Widow With Child Under Age 16 75% (at any age) 100%

An Advisor in Your Corner

As you can see, Social Security isn’t a simple process to navigate. Taking the time to work with a financial advisor can help alleviate the stress that comes with the complex questions you may be trying to gain clarity on.

We at Infiniti Wealth Management would love the opportunity to help you evaluate your options and choose a claiming strategy based on your unique situation. We are here to walk with you as you work through the steps of Social Security—and the rest of your financial journey.

If you’d like to work with a financial planner who understands your specific needs and empowers you to feel more confident in your financial decisions, we invite you to call our office at 845-278-8638 or send us a message to set up a complimentary consultation.

About Mike

Michael Durante is a founder, Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®), and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA®) at Infiniti Wealth Management, an independent, fee-only financial advisory firm. With over 25 years of experience, Mike specializes in serving women who are going through a life transition, whether that’s a divorce or the death of a spouse, as well as pre-retiree and retiree couples. He is passionate about helping his clients develop a personalized financial plan based on their values and goals so they enter retirement with confidence and peace of mind. Mike has both a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an MBA from Pace University. When he’s not working, Mike loves spending time outdoors hiking, biking, walking, golfing, campfires, the beach and doing yard work, as well as spending time with family and friends. Mike also enjoys to read, travel, and check out local restaurants and events. To learn more about Mike, connect with him on LinkedIn.


December 11, 2023 - Michael Durante, CFP®, CDFA®