As Social Security marks the 80th anniversary since it signing into law by FDR on August 14, 1935, Time magazine in its August 3rd issue has a feature story titled, “The Next Social Security Crisis, Why American Women Bear the Brunt of the Retirement Crunch.” The article focuses on the changing demography in the country with more single women, more divorces and fewer married couples compared to years past. Just 50% of American adults were married in 2012 compared to 72% in 1960. The article noted how women have more often worked part-time, worked in occupations that pay less or if married, taken time out of the workforce for child bearing.
All of these circumstances have resulted in the average Social Security payout in 2013 of $16,590 for men and just $12,857 annually for women. From all sources, men had $27,657 annually in retirement benefits and women received $15,323. The number of women ages 50-59 not eligible for spousal or survivor benefits doubled in twenty years from 8% in 1990 to 16% in 2009.
There is growing discussion about raising Social Security benefits at least for those with the lowest incomes. Also other changes discussed include giving women credit for unpaid caregiving or other changes to benefit older women who are widowed or single in retirement. These changes are being discussed because as the article notes, “single women age 65 and older are three times as likely as married women to be in poverty.” President Obama and some state leaders are proposing new automatic retirement accounts be established for those who don’t have pensions or company paid retirement. The savings plans would automatically enroll workers unless they opted out.
Expect the issue to be discussed a great in the 2016 Presidential and congressional election campaigns.