Social Security & Women

Q: Are Social Security benefits the same for women and men?

A: Program legislation is gender neutral so individuals with identical earnings histories are treated the same in terms of benefits, so yes; Social Security benefits are the same for women and men.

Differences outside of Social Security, such as interrupted work patterns, overall earnings and life expectancy influence benefits.

Decades ago there were several Social Security gender based differences. For one example, as part of the Social Security Amendments of 1961, men first became eligible to start reduced retirement benefits at age 62. Women obtained this option in 1956.

Historic Social Security public information reflected social realities of the times. The following poster announced passage of the 1939 Social Security Amendments. These important amendments transformed Social Security from a retirement program for individual workers, into a family income security program that provided retirement, survivors and dependents benefits.

Of interest for this post is the assumption that the “insured worker” was male. Times change.

Women-1939poster

As noted earlier, while Social Security program legislation is gender neutral, differences outside of Social Security influence benefits. Women represent 57 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries age 62 and older and approximately 68 percent of all beneficiaries age 85 and older.

Including the “What Every Woman Should Know” booklet, the Women section of the Social Security website at www.ssa.gov/people/women/  contains useful information at every stage of life, for both men and women.