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Women Face Tough Challenges in Retirement … But Can Overcome Them!

SocialSecurityWaid1 The writer Oscar Wilde said “When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.” This is a great insight into how vital money can be at older ages – when we have a much more difficult time earning money or just can no longer work.

A recent report from AARP’s Public Policy Institute, An Uphill Climb: Women Face Greater Obstacles to Retirement Security, highlights demographic and economic differences between men and women and describes how these differences can make retirement planning even more difficult for women.  Consider this:

Women can expect to live longer than men and will need to prepare for more years in retirement.

The Social Security Administration estimates that women are expected to live two years longer than men at age 65  (21 more years compared to 19 years), so women need to finance a 10 percent longer retirement, on average, than men. In addition, women’s higher life expectancy means they are more likely to live alone at older ages.

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Women earn less. Women’s lower earnings can lead to lower Social Security benefits, lower retirement income, and greater poverty at older ages:


Women’s higher medical expenditures will help erode retirement security.

Given these depressing statistics, what can women do to improve their retirement well-being?

Doing any of these steps will help you to increase your retirement income:


As Oscar Wilde suggested, the older we are the more important money may seem.  However, with some advanced preparation, patience, and determination, women can succeed in creating a comfortable retirement for themselves.



[Photo above courtesy of Mikki D. Waid]

Waid_Small Mikki D. Waid, Ph.D. is a Senior Strategic Policy Advisor on the Economic Security Team in the AARP Public Policy Institute.  She is responsible for research and analyses of policy issues relating to Social Security and retirement security.

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