Making the Most Out of Social Security As a Single, Divorced, or Widowed Woman

Preston Rosamond |

Let’s face it, in today’s world, women often face more employment and retirement challenges than men. This is typically attributed to lower wages and time out of the workforce to care for children. However, these challenges tend to compound if you are single.

Whether divorced, widowed, or unmarried, many women are navigating their financial lives alone. It’s estimated the majority of women will ultimately end up alone, which means it’s more important than ever to take control of your financial life.

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 is 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. 

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 substantially, which could lead to thousands of more dollars throughout your retirement for you to invest or gift to others.

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 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. 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. 

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

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)


Rely on a Financial Professional

Life as a single woman can be complicated as it is, and you never know when the unexpected could happen. Don’t add the stress of dealing with Social Security on your own to the mix. To gain clarity and potentially increase your benefits, it may benefit you to work with a financial professional.

At The Rosamond Financial Group, it’s our passion to help you travel the road of life and arrive in good condition. We are here to walk with you as you navigate Social Security and the rest of your financial journey as well. If you’d like to work with a financial advisor who understands your unique needs and inspires you to be more confident in your financial decisions, book a free introductory meeting online! See what clients are saying about working with us.

About Preston

Preston Rosamond is a financial advisor and the founder of The Rosamond Financial Group Wealth Management, LLC with over two decades of industry experience. He provides comprehensive wealth management and financial services to successful business owners, corporate executives, and affluent retirees who enjoy simplicity and seek a professional to help them pursue their goals. Preston personally serves his clients with an individual touch, a sincere heart, and his servant’s attitude is evident from the moment you meet him. Learn more about Preston or start the conversation about your finances with him by emailing or schedule a call on his online calendar.