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Social Security Claiming Strategies for Single, Divorced & Widowed Women

Social Security Claiming Strategies for Single, Divorced & Widowed Women

September 22, 2021

After years of diligently working and saving, we know you’re looking forward to a relaxing and fulfilling retirement. But those golden years don’t come without planning and strategizing. And one piece of the retirement planning puzzle that often gets overlooked is Social Security.

Even if you don’t rely on your Social Security benefits to pay the bills during retirement (thanks to your nest egg), don’t ignore them! After all, those benefits are rightfully yours; taking the time to optimize them for your unique situation will be well worth the effort.

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. (1)

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…







Just by waiting until age 70, your monthly payout increases by 32% each month, which could lead to thousands of more dollars throughout your retirement. (2)

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 have plenty of other resources, so you use other accounts to fund retirement while 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. (3)

If your ex passes away, you receive benefits as a widow, which means you get 100% of your ex’s payout. 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. 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: (4)

Widow Type

Benefit Amount Before Retirement Age     

Benefit Amount At Full Retirement Age


71.5% to 99% (starting at age 60)


Disabled Widow

71.5% (starting at age 50)


Widow With Child Under Age 16

75% (at any age)


Meet With a Financial Professional

Putting together an intricate puzzle with many pieces is always easier with help; and attempting to navigate Social Security alone may not be the best course of action. To gain clarity and help maximize your benefits, it’s best to work with a financial professional.

We at 1on1 Financial are passionate about empowering women to take control of their finances and make decisions that get them closer to their ideal future. We are familiar with the unique challenges women face throughout their lifetime and desire to partner with you to maximize your opportunities and minimize the risks to your financial situation. Whether you need help developing a brand-new financial plan or you just want to know more about Social Security, you can reach us by calling our office today at 909-981-1720 or simply clicking here to schedule a free 15-minute introductory phone call!

About 1on1 Financial

1on1 Financial is an independent financial advisory firm specializing in guiding working and retired professionals, executives, and business owners along the path to financial well-being. Founded in 1997, we use a team approach to help our clients accumulate wealth, generate income, preserve their life savings, and strategically plan for the distribution of their estate. With more than 50 years of combined experience in the financial services industry, we remain true to our fundamental mission: to provide personalized guidance, treatment, care, and service so our clients can gain control of their future and feel confident in their financial life.