Retired women living on less than retired men

Jen A. Miller

The retirement picture isn't looking good in this country, but it's a lot worse for women than it is for men.

According to a report from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, retired women are behind men on Social Security payments and private savings, and receive less income from pension plans.

When drawing from all of these resources, the median annual income for men 65 and older is $27,612. For women? $16,040. That's more than an $11,000 difference.

This disparity is especially concerning since women tend to live longer then men, spend more on medical care and are more likely to enter a nursing home.

How did this happen?

Women are still far more likely to work part time or take time out of the workforce to raise families or take care of aging parents, which means their lifetime earnings are lower.

Women who work full time still make between 77 and 82 cents less than every dollar a man makes, according to the Joint Economic Committee report. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women working full time make $706 a week compared with $860 made by men.

This all means less money paid into Social Security, less money earned in pension plans, and less money put into any kind of private savings or retirement plans, leaving women $11,000 behind men every year.

Social Security cardsWhen should you start Social Security benefits?

Deciding when to start Social Security is one of the most important retirement decisions you’ll make. Is it smart to sign up for a check as soon as you turn 62, the youngest possible age? Or should you wait a few years, when you’ll qualify for a bigger monthly payment? Let our 6-step guide help you make the right call for your financial situation.

So what do we do?

First, continue to fight for laws that ensure equal pay. The fact that women are so underpaid for doing the same exact jobs as men is a national disgrace.

But change is slow, especially when some members of our government insist that protections for female workers aren't necessary. So women need to realize the starkness of the situation and adjust retirement planning accordingly.

The Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement has resources for women who want to figure out how to make up for these kinds of shortfalls, including savings calculators, budgeting tools and advice such as 5 money mistakes women should avoid.

If you're married and not working, or took a break from the workforce, make sure that legal paperwork is in place so that you will be provided for if you ever divorce or your partner dies.

Does it stink to have these conversations? Of course. But would you rather be left destitute in your golden years because that prince charming turned into a frog?