Quick facts about why Social Security is vital to Washington women and families

Via the National Women’s Law Center:

Social Security is a family insurance plan that provides retirement benefits and life and disability insurance to Washington’s working families.

  • About 1 in 6 residents – about 1,046,200 people – receives disability, survivor, and/or retirement benefits from Social Security.
  • 93 percent of residents 65 and older receive Social Security benefits.
  • About 70,500 children receive Social Security benefits because of the loss of a parent’s income due to death, disability or retirement.
  • About 180,900 disabled workers and their family members receive Social Security benefits.
  • About 80,000 widowed spouses receive Social Security survivor’s benefits. (Nationally, women represent virtually all (99 percent) of spouses receiving survivor benefits.)

Washington women depend on modest Social Security benefits to get by.

  • Women are a majority of both adult beneficiaries and beneficiaries 65 and older.
  • The average Social Security benefit for women 65 and older is about $12,400 per year, compared to about $16,500 for men 65 and older.
  • Older women rely more on income from Social Security than older men do. Median income for women 65 and older living alone is $18,200 per year – and Social Security represents 72 percent of that amount. Median income for comparable men is $27,500 – and Social Security represents 48 percent of that amount.

Social Security is a critical anti-poverty program for Washington women and families.

  • Social Security lifted 312,000 residents out of poverty, including 14,000 children.
  • Social Security dramatically reduced poverty rates for women 65 and older: from 43 to 10 percent for all women 65 and older, and from 63 to 16 percent for older women living alone.

Social Security helped Mary Thompson raise her family

From Social Security: What’s at Stake for Children, Youth, and Grandfamilies

Although she has never married or had children of her own, Mary Thompson knew that she wanted to care for her two young nieces after her sister died unexpectedly from a brain aneurysm in 2004. “I knew I wanted to raise Brianna and Brandy. But I really did have a fear of how I was going to do it financially as a single person,” she said.

Initially, providing care for two children unexpectedly strained Mary’s budget. Her salary as a human resources assistant at a bank only allowed her to comfortably meet the needs of a single person. Suddenly, she needed to make it work for three.

“What I was making was not enough to handle food and clothes for the girls let alone if they would want to go to a movie or out to eat with their friends,” she said. “I was concerned. I didn’t know how I could make ends meet. My paycheck took care of house bills and whatever I needed personally, and that was about it.”

But about a year after her sister’s death, Thompson got some relief when she learned that her young nieces qualified for survivor benefits from Social Security. Continue reading “Social Security helped Mary Thompson raise her family”

Why Social Security is so important for women’s economic security

From the Alliance for Retired Americans:

Women and Social Security

Many older women enter retirement with fewer economic resources than men.

In 2009, half of older women relied on Social Security for 80% or more of their income. This exclusive reliance on Social Security is partly due to the fact that only a small percentage of older women receive pension income. Additionally, most do not have significant personal savings due, in part, to the wage gap, as well as time spent out of the workforce due to family caregiving responsibilities.

Further, while some women may enter their retirement years with additional sources of income, longer life expectancies than men put women at greater risk of exhausting these other sources of income. Social Security is especially important to women and is the principle retirement program for elderly women in the United States.

Read more from Spotlight: Social Security and Workers with Disabilities »

En Español | Enfoque: Las Mujers y el Seguro Social »