Senior Women and Poverty

One in 10 seniors – 4.6 million in total – lives in poverty. Out of those 4.6 million seniors, 2 out of 3 are women. Women are at a greater risk of poverty in retirement than their male counterparts. What is the reason for this? To understand why, we must look at what makes security in retirement possible: pensions, social security, and savings.

Pensions and 401k’s are wonderful sources of income in retirement. However, not all retired Americans have access to these types of accounts, either because their employers never provided one or they may have received a plan that does not provide secure income for their lifetime. The gender pay gap also affects our seniors more than any other generation. When the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, women earned 59 cents for every $1 their male counterpart earned. This means women, whose employer did offer a pension or 401k, received a significantly smaller amount due to the pay gaps.

The second pillar of retirement is Social Security. Similar to pensions, Social Security is a steady  source of income. However, it was never meant to be the only form of retirement income. According to the Social Security Administration, Social Security should only be 60% of an individual’s income. Today, one-third of all senior women rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income causing many to live near or under the poverty line.

The final pillar of retirement security is savings. Out of all three of these options, this one is the only one that we can continue to work on even after retirement! Women face greater risks in retirement and having a safety net through savings can give you financial protection. Whether you use an IRA, bonds, a savings account, rainy day fund, mattress, or piggy bank; having any savings is always important. You can start today by saving in any method, large or small.