The median income of women 75 and older is about $13,000 less than of older men — $19, 043 vs. $32, 572, reports Kerry Hannon for MarketWatch. Hannon recently attended a session at the American Society on Aging’s (ASA) 2018 Aging in America Conference that painted a somber picture for poor, older women in America.

Women of color who are over the age of 65, specifically, are at the greatest risk of living in poverty. Black women of this age have the the highest rate of poverty (21%), followed by Hispanic women (20%) and Native American women (19%), roughly double the poverty rate of white women 65 and older (10%).

The “bag lady syndrome” so many women fear is not that far-fetched for many females over 50. Due to their low pay, lack of employer-provided retirement plans and increasingly longer lifespans and higher medical costs than men, they’re slammed from all sides as they age. Lower earnings directly correspond to an inability to accumulate savings. Many women over 50 are in a jam for retirement partly because they take time out of the workforce for elder care and raising kids. Those workplace breaks cause them to lose potential raises, lower how much they’ll collect from Social Security and give them fewer years to sock away money in a retirement plan at work (and get contributions matched by their employers). In addition, if they lose a partner due to death or divorce, as often happens, their standard of living commonly drops.

Men in pre-retirement age (50 to 64) have 1½ times the wealth of women that age — $60,500 compared with $38,200. Women’s lower wages make it harder for them to pay off student loans; a higher debt load leads to a lower net worth and thus less wealth. It can also produce defaults, preventing some women from landing mortgages to build home equity.

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