A new retirement security report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office paints a “familiar if disconcerting picture” of the challenges senior women face in achieving a secure retirement. It is an issue that transcends gender, the report concludes. “It is important to note that much of the relative improvement in women’s retirement security has been a consequence of deterioration in men’s retirement secutiry,” the report states. “Recent economic volatility, coupled with the continued shift toward defined contribution plans, exposes all workers to more financial risk than previous generations.”
Senior women ages 65 and up are a greater risk of living in poverty than men. On average, their annual earnings are lower than men’s. In addition, they are most likely to take time out of the workplace to care for children and elderly family members, which cuts into earnings as well as retirement savings. Social Security benefits, and pension benefits.
Women also have a longer life expectancy than men are more likely to face their senior years alone, “increasing their vulnerability to unexpected economic and health shocks due to the inability to pool resources with a partner or benefit from spousal care-giving in the event of an illness,” states the report, aptly titled, “Women Still Face Challenges.”
According to the GAO report, which makes no recommendations, retired women rely on Social Security at higher rates than retired men. Sixteen percent of senior women compared with 12 percent of senior men depended on Social Security as their sole income in 2010.
The report also found that divorce or the death of a spouse had a more detrimental effect on women’s income security. For example, widowed women’s household income, on average, fell by 37 percent while men’s declined by only 22 percent
Retirement looms large on the minds of Affluent households surveyed in May by Millionaire Corner. While it is an issue that does transcend gender, women were slightly more likely than men to say that not saving enough for retirement is their biggest financial regret (19 percent vs. 16 percent) and that running out money in retirement is their biggest financial fear (46 percent vs. 41 percent)
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.