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Women: Is It a Mistake to Apply for Social Security at 62?

An NBC News article about the mistakes women make concerning Social Security makes it seem as if applying for benefits as soon as you are eligible at 62 is an error. No matter what advice you read here or elsewhere, when it it comes to Social Security benefits, the important thing is to know what some of your options are. You don’t have to automatically apply at the age of 62; you also don’t have to wait until you are 70 or beyond because you’ll get more. You need to figure out what will work best for you in your particular situation. Consulting with a Fee-Only financial advisor can help you make a decision about when to apply for Social Security.

Overall, women tend to live longer and are more likely to run out of income than men. And you may be aware of some of the factors that contribute to why an older woman may run out of income including lower wages and dropping out of the workforce to care for family. And of course, some women can’t afford to wait and the article points out that the decreased benefits may account for why more women over 65 live in poverty than men.

If retirement is far off, see what you can do to maximize earnings, savings, and investment income so you are not in a position where you must rely solely on Social Security for income in your golden years.

Married women can get spousal benefits but what some may not realize is that filing at 62 means you get a decreased benefit whether you take your spouse’s benefits or your own:

“At full retirement age, a woman would be eligible for either her own full benefit or half of her spouse’s, whichever is larger. But if she files at 62, she would only be eligible for her reduced benefit or as little as 32.5 percent of her partner’s.”

Some married women opt to have their spouse claim Social Security first and then claim their spousal benefit while continuing to work until reaching full retirement age. And divorcees can claim spousal social  security benefits if they meet certain requirements including having been married for at least 10 years.