WRS News Online

A Woman’s Road to Retirement: Why It’s Different

The EMPOWER campaign launched in April with a keynote presentation by Lara Hinz, executive director of the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement. “The biggest risk for women is that they will outlive their savings and they will not know that until it’s too late,” Hinz told the capacity crowd.

Sponsored by the Department of Employee Trust Funds, the Wisconsin Deferred Compensation Program, and state agency Affirmative Action Committees, EMPOWER is a year-long, statewide educational campaign to inspire and encourage women to save for their retirement.

You’re invited: “A Woman’s Road to Retirement: Why It’s Different”
Hinz will repeat her presentation in a free forum on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 from 11:00 a.m. to 12 noon at Department of Health Services, Conference Room 751, 1 West Wilson Street, in Madison. You can participate via live webcast or attend in person. This link to the webcast will go live at the time of the event. Webcast technical viewing information here.

Why is EMPOWER important?
Women are at the epicenter of the nation's retirement crisis. Recent studies, such as the U.S. Department of Labor analysis, Disparities for Women and Minorities in Retirement Savings, and the MetLife Mature Market Institute study of Women, Retirement, and the Extra-Long Life, show that women are considerably less prepared for retirement than men.

Why do women fare so much worse in retirement? Anna Rappaport, an internationally- recognized expert on the effect of change on retirement systems and workforce issues, cites the following differences between men and women as contributing factors:

  • Longer life spans. At age 65, women are expected to live an average of 20 more years and men an average of 18 more years. Women are also expected to have longer periods of disability in old age.
  • Shorter work histories. Women work an average of 12 years less over their lifetimes, largely due to caregiving responsibilities.
  • Women are likely to spend their last years alone. After age 85, only 13% of women are married with a spouse present.
  • Women earn less. Their earnings are 77% of men’s earnings on average.
  • When men lose spouses they are likely to remarry, but women are much less likely to remarry. Men often marry younger spouses, leading to long periods of widowhood for women.
  • Rates of divorce have increased and are expected to increase.

Participating in a defined benefit plan that can provide a lifetime benefit, as does the Wisconsin Retirement System, reduces the likelihood that a woman will end up in poverty after retirement. However, your WRS annuity is intended to be just one component of your retirement savings plan.

“Get to know your sources of income – Social Security, other savings and investment accounts, etc.,” Hinz urges. “Ask yourself, ‘what do I AND my spouse or partner have and where are these resources located?”

Visit ETF’s EMPOWER website now and throughout the year. You’ll find resources to learn more about saving for retirement, including videos, brochures, calculators, checklists, worksheets and research articles from state and national organizations.

And now: Follow ETF on Twitter!