Women of retirement age have a difficult time taking care of themselves financially. Many of them cannot afford basic necessities such as food, housing, and health care. According to the Alliance for Retired Americans the poverty level among women age 65 or older is 13 percent. Those numbers are even higher for minorities, widows, and never-married women. The poverty level among the elderly is at 16 percent for Asians and Pacific Islanders, 21 percent for Hispanics, 26 percent for blacks, and 17 percent for the never-married. Major reforms are needed to correct this situation if an increase in poverty among retired women is to be avoided in future years.
Although the research on women and their retirement is inconclusive, three major factors have been found to influence the timing and quality of women's retirement. According to David Bach in the book "Smart Women Finish Rich", these factors are tenure and quality of employment, family care giving, and marital and family status. The tensions of the role of the woman in the home and workplace continue to result in an economic disadvantage for many older women. Many women have little or no access to retirement or pension plans through their work, and many are not able to save enough money to retire in comfort or even to support themselves. The social security and medicare programs are extremely important and helpful to the elderly, but are very modest and do not offer enough financial support for older women who have limited income resources. According to the Social Security Administration, in a home with the husband and wife both receiving a social security benefit, if the woman's husband dies, she stops receiving her original benefit. So her income is reduced by an average of about 40 percent. Even with her husband gone, she must still pay for things that they had been paying for with two social security benefits. She could still have a mortgage, utilities, and automobile expenses that may not have been reduced by his death. She could also be paying for his medical expenses and any debt left unpaid by him.
If actions are not taken to prevent poverty in retirement age women, what will happen? If women of retirement age are unable to support themselves, they will be supported by other means, namely the taxpayers. Many elderly people are supported by their children. Others rely on the government. Either way, this creates a burden to the individual.
Women's financial needs are different than those of men. With more and more women in the workforce, they are making more money than ever before, but, according to the statistics released by the United States Census Bureau, women still tend to earn only about 84 percent of what men earn. The average woman also lives about seven years longer than the average man. The average age of widowhood is 56. Because of this, she needs to make her money go further than a man. So, she has less money and needs to make it last...