The Social Security Administration (SSA) has introduced “Social Security for Women” (www.ssa.gov/women), a web site specifically geared to offer women an easy and convenient way to research their benefits. The site provides information on retirement, survivors and disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income. Links are provided for working women, beneficiaries, brides, widows, new mother, divorcees and care givers, in order to help explain retirement planning.
Women comprise over half of Social Security recipients according to the AARP’s Women’s Initiative Project. For 2.5 million women, or 26 percent of all older single women, it is the sole source of income. Since women live longer than men, they also depend on Social Security for a longer period of time. However, women are disproportionately disadvantaged by the current system. Women working in low-wage jobs or those who take time out of the paid workforce to raise a family are severely penalized by the current system.
According to Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal, benefits are “based on demographics of marriage and work patterns which have changed. As a result, there is a substantial benefit gap between male and female social security recipients.” The average benefit for women is only two-thirds that of men. Smeal argues that women cannot be a “side issue” in the management of Social Security. “Women are the main issue. Our concerns must be at center stage.”