March is Women’s History Month — a time to focus not just on the past, but on the challenges women continue to face in the 21st century. Social Security plays a vital role in the lives of women. With longer life expectancies than men, women tend to live more years in retirement and have a greater chance of exhausting other sources of income. With the national average life expectancy for women in the United States rising, many women will have decades to enjoy retirement. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a girl born today can expect to live more than 80 years. As a result, experts generally agree that if women want to ensure that their retirement years are comfortable, they need to plan early and wisely.The best place to begin is by knowing what you can expect to receive from Social Security, and how much more you are likely to need.You can start with a visit to Social Security’s Retirement Estimator. There, in just a few minutes, you can get a personalized, instant estimate of your retirement benefits. You can find it at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.You should also visit Social Security’s financial planning website at: www.socialsecurity.gov/planners. It provides detailed information about how marriage, widowhood, divorce, self-employment, government service, and other life or career events can affect your Social Security. If you want more information about the role of Social Security in women’s lives today, Social Security also has a booklet that you may find useful. It is called Social Security: What Every Woman Should Know. You can find it online at: www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10127.html.