By Deborah Banikowski
“Rosie the Riveter” is an American icon representing women working in factories during World War II. These women learned new jobs and filled in for the men who were away at war. They produced much of the armaments and ammunition to supply the war effort.
They also paid FICA on their wages, contributing to the Social Security program. These “Rosies” embodied the “can-do” spirit immortalized in a poster by J. Howard Miller. Both the image and the spirit live on today.
If you asked Rosie about Social Security, she would use her rivet gun to drive home the value of Social Security for women. More Rosies work today, and nearly 60 percent of people receiving benefits are women. Women tend to live longer than men, so Social Security’s inflation-adjusted benefits help protect women. You can outlive your savings and investments, but Social Security is for life. Women provide their own basic level of protection when they work and pay taxes into the Social Security system. Women who have been married and had low earnings or who didn’t work may be covered through their spouses’ work.
Today’s Rosie will turn her “can-do” spirit to learning more about Social Security and what role it will play in her financial plan for the future. She focuses on our pamphlet called “What Every Woman Should Know.” available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10127.html for a game plan.
She rolls up her sleeves and sets up her “my Social Security” account (www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount) to review her earnings and estimates. If she finds an incorrect posting, she’ll locate her W-2 form and quickly contact Social Security to correct it because she understands these are the earnings used to figure her benefits.
She dives into understanding benefits at our planner pages at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners. She examines how marriage, divorce, death of a spouse, work, and other issues might affect her benefits. She studies our fact sheet “When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits” at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/ to help her decide when it’s time to lay down the rivet gun. And when the time is right, she will file for retirement benefits online at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire. Whether it was keeping the war effort production lines humming or discovering what is available to her from Social Security, Rosie symbolizes the motto: “We Can Do It.” Rosie and millions like her rely on the financial protection provided by Social Security in assembling their own financial futures.
Q: Is it illegal to laminate your Social Security card?
A: No, it is not illegal, but we discourage it. It’s best not to laminate your card. Laminated cards make it difficult — sometimes even impossible — to detect important security features and an employer may refuse to accept them. The Social Security Act requires the Commissioner of Social Security to issue cards that cannot be counterfeited. We incorporate many features that protect the card’s integrity. They include highly specialized paper and printing techniques, some of which are invisible to the naked eye.
Q: I have never worked but my spouse has. What will my benefits be?
A: You can be entitled to as much as one-half of your spouse’s benefit amount when you reach full retirement age. If you want to get Social Security retirement benefits before you reach full retirement age, the amount of your benefit is reduced. The amount of reduction depends on when you will reach full retirement age. For example, if your full retirement age is 66, you can get 35 percent of your spouse’s unreduced benefit at age 62 (a permanent reduction); if your full retirement age is 67, you can get 32.5 percent of your spouse’s unreduced benefit at age 62 (a permanent reduction).
The amount of your benefit increases if your entitlement begins at a later age, up to the maximum of 50 percent at full retirement age. However, if you are taking care of a child who is under age 16 or who gets Social Security disability benefits on your spouse’s record, you get the full spouse’s benefits, regardless of your age. Learn more about retirement benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/retirement.
Q: Who is eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
A: People who receive SSI are age 65 or older, blind, or disabled with limited income and resources. Go to www.socialsecurity.gov for income and resource limits. The general fund of the United States Treasury makes SSI payments. They do not come out of the Social Security Trust Fund.