May 2, 2008
Women age 65 and above are more than twice as likely as men to be unmarried - widowed, divorced, separated, or never married—and live alone. In 2004, the median income of unmarried women aged 65 and older was approximately $17,363 per year. The average age of a widow is 56 years. The national average total of widow compensation from all resources, including insurance, savings and pensions, upon her husband’s death is approximately $12,000. These are very grim statistics, and the single most important contributing factor is inadequate preparation.
Even today, women earn only $0.76 for every dollar that a man earns. This reduced income results in lower total compensation over a woman’s lifetime, which detrimentally affects the amount of Social Security and company sponsored pension plans benefits she will receive upon retirement. Retirement benefits are often further reduced by the time that women typically take off throughout their child bearing and rearing years.
Since women live an average of 8 years longer than men, and they characteristically have significantly less financial assets, this creates many hardships at a time when life should be easier. All women must take responsibility for their own financial well being, and the earlier this responsibility is undertaken, the better. A widow who has not exposed herself to financial issues and who must suddenly assume responsibility for her household’s finances will be understandably overwhelmed. On the other hand, a woman who is familiar with her assets and liabilities will make a more comfortable transition if necessary. ...
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by: Gina M. Barry, Esq.