Women at Greater Risk for Less Secure Retirement

October 20, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Women are at a greater risk than men to experience a decrease in living standards after retirement says a new study prepared by Cindy Hounsell, Executive Director of the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), and WISER Program Director Pat Humphlett.

“When you consider that women on average earn less income, accumulate less retirement benefits and live longer than men, it is not entirely surprising that women face far greater economic risks in retirement,” Hounsell said in a news release from Americans for Secure Retirement (ASR).

According to the ASR release, key findings of the report include:

  • The salary for women working in 2003 was $30,734, compared to $40,668 for men. Over her lifetime, the typical college educated woman earns $523,000 less than her male peer. She spends less time in the workforce than a male, and therefore accumulates less social security benefits and fewer vesting years in an employer-based retirement plan.
  • For the current population of retired women, the median income in 2003 of women aged 64-74 was $12,143, compared to $23,161 for men. More than 13% of women aged 75-84 were living in poverty in 2003, compared to 7.4% of men. Twenty percent of women aged 65 and older who live alone, live in poverty, compared with 13% of men in the same situation.
  • Only 44% of working women participate in a pension plan, and in 2002, women aged 65 and older had a median asset income of roughly $86 a month. While Social Security is replacing less of a retiree’s pre-retirement income (around 42%), it is the only source of income for 25% of unmarried women. The average Social Security payment for a retired woman in 2002 was $774 a month, compared to $1,006 for men.

The report , “The Female Factor: Why Women Face Greater Retirement Risk and What Can Be Done To Help Beyond Employer-Based Retirement Programs” suggests that women should be encouraged more to save and plan for retirement. It promotes the current legislation pending in Congress encouraging lifetime annuities as a guaranteed source of income in retirement (See New US House Bill Pushes Annuities ).

More about Americans for Secure Retirement and pending legislation can be found at www.paycheckforlife.org .