How Social Security and Retirement Impact Women

| October 20, 2021

Social Security is neutral with respect to gender—individuals with identical earnings histories are treated the same in terms of benefits. This information from the Social Security Administration (SSA) highlights how the Social Security program impacts women and the specific demographic characteristics of women compared with the entire population.

Women tend to earn less than men, live an average of 2.5 years longer, accumulate less savings, and receive smaller or no pensions. Thus, this demographic runs the genuine risk of outliving their savings.

  • According to the SSA's Office of the Chief Actuary, women reaching age 65 in 2019 are expected to live, on average, an additional 21.5 years compared with 18.9 years for men.
  • Women represent 55.3% of all Social Security beneficiaries age 62 and older and approximately 63.9% of beneficiaries age 85 and older.

The Social Security system is progressive in that lower-wage earners receive a higher percentage benefit than higher-wage earners do. The system returns a greater percentage of pre-retirement earnings to a lower-wage worker than to a higher-wage worker. Women who are low-wage workers receive back more benefits in relation to past earnings than do high-wage earners.

  • In 2019, the median earnings of women aged 15–64 who worked full-time for 50 weeks or more were $45,000, compared to $54,000 for men.
  • In 2017, 48% of elderly unmarried women receiving Social Security relied on it for 90% or more of their total income.

In 2019, the average annual Social Security income received by women 65 years and older was $13,505 compared to $17,374 for men. Social Security provides dependent benefits to spouses, divorced spouses, elderly widows, and widows with young children. 

In 2019, women generally received lower pension benefits due to their relatively lower earnings, and a higher share, 64%, of part-time workers are women.

With up to 50% of Social Security income subject to taxes for individuals that report a total gross income including Social Security of at least $25,000, you need to plan how to obtain the most from your retirement income. As your dedicated team, reach out to us, and we'll help you get the information you need to make the right choices.


This document is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. One should consult a legal or tax professional regarding their own personal situation. Any comments regarding safe and secure investments and guaranteed income streams refer only to fixed insurance products offered by an insurance company. They do not refer in any way to securities or investment advisory products Insurance policy applications are vetted through an underwriting process set forth by the issuing insurance company. Some applications may not be accepted based upon adverse underwriting results.  Death benefit payouts are based upon the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company. The firm providing this document is not affiliated with the Social Security Administration or any other government entity.

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