African American and Latina women are more likely to rely on Social security for 58 to 90 percent of their retirement income than any other group. African Americans women also receive less money monthly than any other groups (Hooyman & Kiyak, The Resilience of Older Women, 2005).  Other than the reality that women are often paid less than men  we also must realize that often the career choices women make also negatively affect their Social Security Benefit later in life.

The benefit is based on the earnings of the best 35 years of working.  Women often start work late, take an extended break or stop working early due to illness, to raise families or act as caregiver for a loved one. Married women, disabled women and widows are also penalized by even deeper decreases in benefits.  For Example the system also only allows women the greater of spousal and worker benefits earned.  Women caring for disabled spouses must choose the greater of disability and earned social security benefits and so forth.

In summary the largest inequities are resulting from not accounting for the time many women spend working informally.

References:

Hooyman, N. R., & Kiyak, H. A. (2005). The Resilience of Elders of Color. In N. R. Hooyman, & H. A. Kiyak, Social Gerontology, A Multidisciplinary Prespective (pp. 604-612). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc., as Allyn & Bacon.


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