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Life Health > Annuities > Fixed Annuities

The Disadvantaged Retirement Sector: Women

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What You Need to Know

  • Women often earn less.
  • They often live longer.
  • They may not ever think to talk to someone like you.

For several years our family worked as volunteers for the food bank. The food bank supplied those in need with weekly baskets of food and other necessities of life.

We have many fond memories of that time.

Over the years, we realized that a change was taking place: Many people (especially women) who had volunteered morphed into those who needed help and the food baskets.

What happened?

One reason was obvious: Remove half of the income, and things changed.

In most cases, a spouse had died.

A Teacher’s Story

One woman, in particular, was a retired teacher. Her husband was also a retired teacher. Life was fine when they had their pensions and Social Security.

The retired teacher and her husband raised children and helped their church and their community.

Things changed when her husband died. I remember the day she came in for food; she was in tears and needed friends.

Of course, everyone helped, but the humiliation of that event shook her and the rest of us.

How could this have happened?

The retired teacher and her husband had been retired for about 18 years.

Initially, their retirement was more than enough, but inflation, tax increases, and covering for medical expenses left over from a lowering of medical reimbursements all took a toll.

Millions of women just like that woman are in need and living in the shadows.

Consider what retirement should be: to live well and with comfort.

How many have seen their dream of the Golden Years turn dark?

The Income

Women, in general, make less money before they turn 65. That translates into them having less money to put aside for retirement and contributing less to Social Security.

And women typically live longer than men, which means that they often must make their retirement income last longer.

A report from the National Institute on Retirement Security gives shocking data on the effects of those differences.

Average income is 25% lower for women ages 65 and older than for men in that age category, and 44% lower for women than for men by age 78.

At age 65, women are 80% more likely to face poverty than men are.

When women are ages 75 through 79, they are three times more likely to fall below the poverty line.

Other Factors

Here are five other reasons that may explain why women in retirement are more likely to struggle.

1. Caregiving Responsibilities

Women are more likely to take on caregiving roles for family members, which can lead to career interruptions and reduced earnings.

This can affect the amount of money saved for retirement, so it’s essential for women to consider caregiving responsibilities when planning for retirement.

2. Financial Literacy

Women may be less confident about their financial knowledge and may feel less prepared for retirement than men.

They might not even think to ask someone like your for advice.

3. Health Problems

As women tend to live longer, they may face more health-related challenges during retirement.

4. Isolation

Women may find that they outlive their friends, relatives and neighbors, and caregiving responsibilities and changes in living situations may add to problems with social connections.

How You Can Help

Here are ways you may be able to help women overcome the challenges they face in planning for retirement.

1. Market yourself. Make sure the women in your community, including the women you know personally, understand what they have to do to prepare for retirement.

2. Encourage women to engage in hobbies and other activities that foster connections with others.

2. Emphasize the value of eating right, exercising and taking other steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

3. Talk about basic elements of financial wellness, such as creating a will, designating beneficiaries for life insurance policies and financial accounts, and setting up a power of attorney arrangement for health care decisions and financial decisions.

4. Explain the value of defined benefit pension plans and guaranteed income annuities as sources of guaranteed lifetime retirement income.

Bill Broich (Credit: Broich)Bill Broich, co-owner of, also works as a content marketing strategist for financial professionals.




(Photo: Sandra Matic/Fotolia)


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