It's up to women retirees to stand up and better their own financial situation in retirement, and that, too, starts with Social Security. "Women need to make better Social Security decisions," says Jim Uren, a financial advisor and psychologist who specializes in working with women saving for retirement, with Phase 3 Advisory Services. "According to the statistics from the Social Security Administration, more than 50% of women start taking Social Security retirement benefits before they reach their full retirement age," he notes. "Using this data the SSA's life expectancy data, the average woman loses over $100,000 in retirement due to these early retirement penalties."
"Simply put, women need to make better Social Security choices and financial advisors should be better trained to assist them with these decisions," he adds.
Women also need to be better prepared for potential widowhood and should not make rash decisions in the immediate aftermath of spouse's passing. "Widows can make decisions too soon after losing their husbands, they can miss out on tax planning opportunities in the year of death, and they can be hesitant to make a change to their investment strategy even though their financial situation has significantly changed," Uren adds. "Advisors need better training to work with those who are grieving."
For women who recognize the struggle for a decent retirement, especially if they're on their own, the above tips are a good place to start, along with a long talk with a trusted financial advisor.
If they don't, the downside risk is abundant -- and it could lead to an impoverished retirement.