The financial challenges women face to achieve financial security in retirement can be huge, as a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing and an Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) briefing last week demonstrated starkly. And with the rising cost of health care, as well as other deep-seated economic factors at play, the anxiety has heightened considerably. Fortunately, as the Senate hearing and the EBRI briefing demonstrate, women’s financial security is on the front burner in political and public policy discussions.
Linda Stone, a Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) fellow and volunteer member of the Society of Actuaries committee on postretirement needs and risks, reminded the Senators that due to the gender mortality difference and the fact that many women marry older men, they are more likely to outlive their partner and to be living alone, increasing the likelihood of falling into poverty. The financial implications can be dire, especially if women spent their financial resources on an ailing husband’s health care at the end of his life. She noted that as women change jobs, many don’t grasp why they shouldn’t cash out their retirement-plan balances, no matter how tiny and why that leaving the money alone can make a big difference at retirement.
When researcher Jack VanDerhei unveiled EBRI’s latest research on retirement savings, he showed that Gen X women fall behind men in their age cohort. The average retirement shortfall for single Gen X women, VanDerhei said, was $72,883 compared to $37,690 for single men. EBRI also found gaps for women who were married and whose spouse died first as well as for women at higher incomes. And another study showed that median net worth for women age 45 to 65, adjusted for inflation, actually declined over the past two decades.
To read more about all of these studies and panels, see the full article at Next Avenue.