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Retirement planning is important for everyone. It’s also different for everyone.

No two people are completely alike. Everyone has their own financial needs and priorities for their life after leaving the workforce. That makes retirement planning a very unique process.

At the same time, certain considerations in retirement planning tend to apply to specific groups of people. These aren’t absolutes — everyone is different. However, they’re definitely worth thinking about and incorporating into your own retirement plan based on your own circumstances.

Generally speaking, women and men have many things in common in terms of retirement planning. The ultimate goal of building a secure financial future is the same. The benefits of working with a fiduciary advisor apply to both men and women.

However, women and men also have some key differences that come into play in retirement planning. Many of these differences stem from the longer average life expectancy of women compared to men.

Informative and meaningful conversations about women and retirement planning must address those differences. The goal is to paint a more complete and relevant picture of retirement.

Let’s take a closer look at important factors for women in their lives beyond the workforce. Whether you’re a single woman starting retirement planning or have a spouse, this information can help. The goal is to put you in a position to make a more informed decision about your future.

Priorities for Women Planning for Retirement

Overall, women have longer average lifespans than men. That’s especially important to consider as you start to plan and save for retirement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report a major gap in life expectancy by gender. As of 2021, US women had an average life expectancy of 79.1 years. That’s a significant difference from men in the US, who had an average life expectancy of 73.2 years in 2022.

The average difference in life expectancy between men and women is nearly six years. For most women, it’s time that comes after exiting the workforce.

At this point, women retirees count on specific types of income for financial support. That includes their investments, Social Security, and other resources.

On a very basic level, that means women need more money. They should expect to support themselves after retirement for a longer time as compared to men. Living longer on average requires a longer-term plan to build sustainable retirement savings.

With that in mind, investing for women in retirement planning should take a somewhat longer view in terms of protecting assets and generating growth. Your financial advisor should prioritize that extended timeline when suggesting potential investments and strategies.

Additionally, longer life expectancy can lead to certain costs, such as long-term care. It also leads to changes to certain retirement benefits, like Social Security benefits. Let’s take a closer look at both.

Long-Term Care and Assisted Living

Effective retirement planning for single women, widows, and women with healthy spouses should place some additional emphasis on long-term care. This is another key need from a life expectancy perspective.

As people age, the potential need for assisted living, in-home care, and similar types of support increases. Women live nearly six years longer than men on average. That means they’re more likely to reach ages where long-term care becomes a more common and foundational need.

The Administration for Community Living, part of the US Department of Health & Human Services, offers more details. On average, women need some form of long-term care for 1.5 years more than men. Additionally, someone who reached age 65 in 2020 has a nearly 70% chance of requiring long-term care in the future.

Unfortunately, that difference puts more of a financial burden on women in retirement for long-term care. However, careful and thorough retirement planning for women takes the potential costs of that ongoing care into account.

Strategies for addressing the cost of long-term care can include drawing on savings and investments. Long-term care insurance and other resources may offer support as well. It’s possible to address this increased cost, but only with a thoughtful and regularly adjusted retirement plan.

Social Security Benefits

Social Security income often isn’t enough to support a stable retirement by itself. That means it’s not always at the forefront of people’s minds as they plan for retirement. However, many individuals and couples count on this guaranteed income to supplement their budget, helping to maintain their lifestyles.

Deciding when to start receiving benefits is important. Cost-of-living adjustments will change the value of each payment over time. That’s also important to consider in long-term budgeting.

A retired woman reviews recent retirement account activity on her laptop computer.

In practical terms, deciding when to take your Social Security benefits means choosing whether you want to:

  • Start receiving smaller payments at an earlier date; or
  • Wait to receive larger payments.

However, married women, widows, and even divorcees have to think about another variable when it comes to Social Security benefits.

Once a spouse passes away, one of a qualified retired couple’s two benefits payments will also end. This can happen to both men and women, but may be more common for women due to their longer average life expectancy.

You could choose to start receiving your spouse’s payments, replacing your own. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides death benefits and options to surviving spouses and, in certain circumstances, divorced spouses.

That includes the option to receive part or all of your deceased spouse’s Social Security benefits. Social Security is based on an individual’s monthly earnings and time in the workforce.

Did your spouse earn more and spend more time in the workforce than you did? Taking this survivor’s benefit may be a good financial decision. It can lead to a higher payout than would be possible through your own benefits.

If you worked longer and earned more income than your spouse, keeping your own benefits may be the right decision. The choice is different for everyone.

Age, past income, and many other factors come into play with this decision. Working with a knowledgeable retirement planner can help you make the best decision based on your individual circumstances. In situations where there is no single “correct” or “right” decision, an advisor can make your options clearer.

More Retirement Planning Tips for Women

Age and longer life expectancy influence many important retirement planning decisions for women. However, there are other retirement considerations that don’t center on that difference, including:

Impact of Childcare and Elder Care

Women often take the lead in caring for their newborn children. They also frequently help care for elderly family members. In both situations, that can mean working part time, taking a position with lower pay, or temporarily leaving the workforce entirely.

Time spent away from work can mean less retirement savings and reduced contributions to retirement accounts. In these cases, it’s especially important to make sure your investments are managed properly.

This can be especially important in retirement planning for single women. However, that concern can apply to women in any situation. It’s another area where the experience and knowledge of a retirement planner can help you build more financial stability in retirement.

Impact of a Spouse Managing Finances

We want to be clear that this point can apply to both men and women. It all depends on how spouses divide their shared responsibilities.

Did your spouse take the lead in managing your household finances, savings, and investments? It can feel especially difficult to take over this task following a divorce, or their passing.

Working with professional retirement planners, especially fiduciaries who are bound to act in their clients’ best interests, can help. They can share their knowledge and experience to help you navigate the many financial needs of retirement.

Do Women Need to Save More for Retirement Than Men?

We’ve addressed this question from many angles throughout this article. However, we want to make the answer very clear.

In many but not all cases, women should at least consider saving more for retirement than men.

No one can predict the future. That makes large-scale data, like averages related to concerns such as life expectancy and long-term care needs, very useful. Retirement planning for women has to account for possibilities like more years spent in retirement and an extended duration of long-term care.

Informed decision-making is a crucial part of a relevant and effective retirement plan. The right retirement planner won’t stop with monitoring population-level data. They will also put it in context with your life experiences to build an individualized approach to retirement.

Planning for a More Secure Retirement as a Woman

Retirement planning is complex. Professional retirement planners can provide support throughout the process, guiding you toward more financially stable ground.

Our founder, Jordan Dechtman, started Dechtman Wealth Management following his father’s passing. He saw the struggles his mother faced in managing their family finances by herself and realized his passion was to help others build a more stable financial future.

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Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Dechtman Wealth Management, LLC [“DWM”]), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions.  Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from DWM. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. DWM is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the DWM’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request or at

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Sam Dechtman

As a wealth advisor at Dechtman Wealth Management, Sam is committed to always doing what is best for the client. Sam began his career working at large international asset manager in Chicago assisting clients with investment analysis, portfolio construction, and retirement income strategies. During that time, Sam would receive the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation, signaling mastery in all areas of financial planning.