Women Worse Off in Retirement

A recent Government Accountability Office report found that while almost 90% of men and women age 65 and older received Social Security benefits, men’s median annual income from the source was almost $3,800 higher than women’s ($12,583 vs. $8,799). Among most of the population age 65 or older, Social Security is the largest source of income, representing 53% of total income for unmarried women but only 38% for unmarried men.

When it comes to other major sources of income for those 65 and older—such as wages and salaries, pension income, and interest and dividends from assets—gender differences remain. Not only did women have less income from these sources than men ($6,141 vs. $12,000 in median pension income and $12,000 vs. $20,800 in median wages and salaries), but fewer women received income from these sources (22% vs. 43.5% for pension income and 12.7% vs. 18.3% for wages and salaries).

The report noted that certain life events, including changes in marital or employment status and long-term care needs, can significantly affect Social Security and pension benefits.

Source: GAO’s Women Face Challenges in Ensuring Financial Security in Retirement , www.gao.gov/new.items/d08105.pdf .


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