What About Social Security Benefits for Singles and the Divorced?

What About Social Security Benefits for Singles and the Divorced?

Link: What About Social Security Benefits for Singles and the Divorced?

By Larry Kotlikoff

Fifty-two percent of women over 60 aren’t married and nearly 70 percent of those over 75. What Social Security benefits are they entitled to? And what about single or divorced men? Photo by Jim McGuire via Getty Images.

A. Price: One or two of us Americans are single or divorced [and we are also] eligible for Social Security benefits now or in the near future. Are you ever going to address the questions of this “fringe” population?

Larry Kotlikoff: Glad you asked. I’ve addressed Social Security’s treatment of singles, but you’re right. Questions about married couples have taken up most of the space.

Older America’s single population is, in fact, anything but “fringe.” Some 30 percent of males and 52 percent of females over 60 aren’t married. Past age 75, the number increases to almost 70 percent of females not married, the majority of them widowed.

These figures also tell us that many currently “non-fringe” married people, particularly women, are likely to end up on the fringe. Hence, it’s important for almost everyone to understand Social Security’s treatment of single people and how single people can take Social Security’s best deal.

If you were never married, the way to maximize your lifetime benefits is simple: Just wait until 70 to start taking benefits at their highest possible value. They will be as much as 76 percent higher than if you start taking benefits at age 62.

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