Over the last two years, 47% of women and 35% of men reported reduced confidence in having enough financial resources to last through retirement – and rightfully so. The stock market crash emptied out retirement accounts, the real estate crash put people’s homes “underwater”, and the “jobless recovery” brought lower wages and fewer workplace benefits, all of which make it difficult to rebuild retirement savings.
But through it all, Social Security is still paying full benefits and keeping millions of people out of poverty in retirement. And not only is it largely immune to the wild swings of the stock market and the economy, Social Security is also perhaps the most successful anti-poverty program in American history – particularly for women.
Why? Women tend to live longer than men, are paid less, and are more likely to take time away from work to care for children. As a result, they often have smaller retirement savings accounts. But while women do tend to have a lower Social Security benefit than men ($3,000 less per year, on average), it makes up a much bigger part of their total retirement income.
Of the more than 1 million Washington residents who receive Social Security benefits each month in Washington, 424,000 are women over age 65. Thanks to Social Security, just 10% of Washington women over 65 live in poverty. Without Social Security, that number would jump to 43%. Social Security is an essential economic support for all Americans, older women in particular. You can learn more about protecting and strengthening Social Security for Washington state at Social Security Works – Washington.