A woman's guide to Social Security

8:46 AM, Nov 2, 2012   |    comments
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Certified Financial Planner Sarah Halpin visits the MORNING REPORT studio

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- When planning for retirement, women need to take certain factors into account to get the most out of Social Security.

Sarah Halpin is as CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERâ„¢ and Associate Vice President-Investments of the Danforth Group of Wells Fargo Advisors.  Here are some of the tips she shared during a visit to the MORNING REPORT studio.

Longevity and Inflation Protection.  Because Social Security generally has annual cost-of-living adjustments, you have an inflation-protected benefit for as long as you live - and for women, those increases are vital since women generally live longer than men. According to the Social Security Administration, women reaching age 65 need to prepare for approximately 21 more years of living expenses. Women represented 57 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries age 62 and older and nearly 70 percent of beneficiaries age 85 and older.

Earnings and Benefit AmountWhile Social Security is neutral with respect to gender (individuals with identical earnings histories are treated with the same in terms of benefits), the average annual Social Security income received by women 65 years and older was $11,337, compared to $14,822 for men. Women generally received lower pension benefits than men due to their relatively lower earnings. Probably none of this comes as a surprise, considering that the statistics are directly related to the realities surrounding women earning less and spending more time out of the work force than men. In 2010, the median earnings of working-age women who were employed fulltime were $36,000 compared to $48,000 for men. And, on average, women spend 12 years out of the work force caring for others.*

Workplace Flexibility and Saving.  Women also are more likely to work at small companies that lack employer-sponsored benefit programs and hold part-time rather than full-time positions. Of the women who were employed fulltime, only 55.5 percent participated in an employer-sponsored public or private sector retirement plan. Women should plan to factor Social Security into a retirement plan, learn all they can about how to enhance benefits, and determining how much income they may need from other sources, to help be financially comfortable during their retirement years

Social Security is Important to Women it provides dependent benefits to spouses, divorced spouses, elderly widows and widows with young children. For more information check out www.socialsecurity.gov/women.


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