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SOCIAL SECURITY

Fact Sheet

Social Security Launches Website
Specially Targeted to Women
Looking for Information About Social Security

As part of its ongoing effort to provide information to diverse groups of individuals, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is launching a new online website -- www.ssa.gov/women -- Social Security Online "For Women." The website provides women with a central location for accessing basic Social Security program information about Retirement, Survivors, Disability and Supplemental Security Income.

The Internet site provides links to basic information throughout SSA's official website -- Social Security Online -- that can be relevant to women at different stages in their life. The links are grouped in logical categories to coincide with the various life events affecting women:

-- Working women -- Beneficiary -- Bride -- Widow
-- New mother -- Divorced spouse -- Caregiver  

Throughout their lives, women frequently face different situations than men:

  • Working women, on average, earn less than men.

  • Women tend to be the primary caregivers, frequently taking time out of careers to care for children or aging parents.

  • More women than men may be stay-at-home parents or spouses, depending heavily on the Social Security spouse's benefits in retirement.

  • Women are more likely than men to outlive their spouse.

The importance of Social Security to women cannot be overlooked. Social Security overshadows all other retirement income for women:

  • On average women live longer, but they have less pension and savings income to rely on.

    • Women are half as likely as men to have private pensions. And for those who do, they are on average half the size of men's.

    • The median 401(k) account balance for women over the age of 40 is $7,000, compared to $20,000 for men

    Social Security is a guaranteed benefit. While a woman may outlive her savings, she won't outlive Social Security. She can count on it for the rest of her life, no matter how long she may live.

  • Social Security has built-in inflation protection in the annual cost-of-living adjustment. Unlike most private pensions, the value of the monthly benefit payment is protected.

  • The Social Security benefit structure is progressive. The benefit formula is "weighted" to provide a higher rate of income replacement for lower-income earners.

  • Social Security is especially vital to older women who are single or divorced.

    • Social Security provides benefits for wives and widows of retired workers, including divorcees. This protection is significant because one of every two marriages ends in divorce.

    • Social Security represents half of all income for three-quarters of unmarried women today. It is the only source of income for one of every four unmarried elderly women.

  • Social Security survivors and disability benefits have enabled women to hold their families together in difficult circumstances.

    • More than 7 million people now receive Social Security survivors benefits, including nearly 2 million children. Of the widows/widowers receiving survivors benefits, over 99 percent are women.

    • More than 6 million people receive disability benefits, including more than 1 million children.

May 2001

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