Women Often Fare Badly in Social Security

Many women work their lifetimes as homemakers, unpaid, and thus with no Social Security tax paid in over the years. This tax is what entitles someone to disability and retirement benefits based on earnings. This article from US News and Word Report discusses these issues and some solutions:

“Changing Social Security rules could substantially ease poverty among older women, according to a new set of proposals. The ideas include reducing the loss of benefits for lower-income recipients when their spouse dies, giving benefit credits for caring for children, enhancing disability benefits, and extending benefits to same-sex couples and their children…

“Women continue to earn nearly 20 percent less money than men, the paper says. In addition, many women stay at home for parts of their careers to raise families, further reducing their lifetime earnings. As a result, they have smaller nest eggs when they retire and also have earned permanently smaller Social Security checks as well. Retired women outlive men by an average of 2.5 years, it adds, and their financial disadvantage worsens in widowhood.

“In 2009, the average annual Social Security income of a retired man was $15,620, while the average yearly income of a retired woman was $12,155,” the paper says. “In 2010, 46 percent of elderly unmarried women, and 58 percent of elderly unmarried women of color, relied on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their total income.”

“Even with Social Security,” it adds, “12 percent of older women still live in poverty; for widows, the rate is worse, at 15 percent. This is 50 percent higher than the poverty rate for all people 65 and older.” The problem is especially severe for women of color. Article here: