Advisors can help female clients properly plan for claiming Social Security and take full advantage of the benefits. Here are some tips on how to do that.

Social Security is an important tool in retirement planning for all clients, but perhaps even more so for women. According to a recent piece by Fidelity Viewpoints, “Women make up 56% of all Social Security beneficiaries age 62 and older, and 66% of all beneficiaries age 85 and older. In 2012, only 45% of women aged 65 or older were married, compared with 75% of men, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.”

Additionally, women statistically live longer, earn less over their working careers and are more likely to have taken time away from the workforce to have cared for their children than men. They are more likely to have less saved for retirement and there’s a good chance that Social Security will play a key role in their retirement income.

Financial advisors can help ensure that female clients properly plan for claiming Social Security and that they take full advantage of the benefits offered as they go through retirement. Here are some tips on women and social security. (For more, see: Scary Statistics About Retirement for Women.)

Waiting to Claim

Social Security recipients are eligible to claim their benefits as early as age 62. Claiming at 62 results in a benefit that is 25% lower than waiting until the full retirement age (FRA), currently 66 years old for those born earlier than 1960. Delaying your benefit beyond your FRA until age 70 results in delayed credits of 8% per year for each you wait until you reach your maximum benefit level at age 70.

Note that claiming your benefit early results in a permanent reduction in your benefit level and will also result in lower cost of living adjustments as they are based upon the level of benefits.

Restricted Application

For women who are married and may be looking to claim a spousal benefit based on their husband’s earnings record, they should know that the popular claiming strategy of having one spouse file and suspend his/her benefit with the other filing a restricted application to claim a spousal benefit goes away after April 30, 2016. For those couples who are still eligible, they need to get all paperwork in before that date.

Read more: How to Help Women Navigate Social Security | Investopedia
Follow us: Investopedia on Facebook