A new Harris Poll commissioned by Columbus-based Nationwide Insurance reveals that a majority of retired women are on course for financial hardship during non-productive years.
Nationwide Retirement Institute reported the results of the new poll, which found that these women could spend 70 percent of their Social Security benefit on health care costs.
Paired with the statistics that women, on average, live longer than men and that 80 percent of retired women collecting Social Security benefits took the benefits early, the poll portrays a gloomy financial outlook, as these women count on Social Security to pay an average 56 percent of all their expenses in retirement.
“Too many women retirees have no retirement income outside of Social Security,” institute Vice President Roberta Eckert said in a statement. “And even for women that do, the fact that they live longer makes maximizing Social Security benefits extremely important.”
The online survey included 465 women, aged 51 years and older, who are retired or plan to be in the next 10 years, a press release detailed.
It found that of women currently collecting Social Security, only 5 percent maximized their monthly check by waiting to claim at age 70 or later.
The 2016 Social Security Study was conducted within the United States between Feb. 16 and 23. Respondents comprised of 909 U.S. adults aged 50 or older who are retired or plan to retire in the next 10 years, which included the 465 women. Of the participating women, 301 were currently retired , while 164 planned to retire in the next 10 years.
Data were weighted where necessary on gender, race/ethnicity, region, education, and propensity to be online, to bring them in line with actual proportions of the population, the press release continued.
Women who have yet to collect Social Security on average expect to get $1,527 in monthly benefits. On average, women retirees are currently collecting $1,153 and those who started taking Social Security early report receiving just $1,084, the study found.
Only 13 percent of women said they received advice on Social Security from a financial advisor — nine-tenths of those women concluding that their Social Security payment was as expected or more than they expected.
“There are a variety of efficient filing strategies open to women — but too few seek professional advice from a financial advisor to take advantage of them,” says Kevin McGarry, director of the institute.
Other highlights of the study were:
- More than a third of women reported their income kept from doing the things they wanted to do in retirement. Twenty-four percent put the blame on health care expenses.
- Seventeen percent of women currently drawing Social Security wish they could change their decision and file later. Of the remaining 83 percent, slightly more than a third said an unforeseen life event, including unplanned health problems (17 percent), compelled them to take it early.
- More than a quarter of women currently drawing Social Security say their Social Security payment is less than they expected.