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Women’s History Month is a time to look back at the vital role women have played throughout history. In every industry, women are natural leaders and change makers – from Congress to financial services. In addition to driving change around women’s rights, many women in leadership are addressing income disparity and improving retirement security for women.

When it comes to retirement, there are best practices for everyone to follow, such as planning for lifetime income and having a balanced portfolio. But for women, there are three key differences in planning for retirement: healthcare, longer life expectancy, and gaps in working years.

Longer Life Expectancy & Health Care Costs

Because women have a longer life expectancy than men, they will likely need their savings to go further. Besides income having to last, there may be other factors to plan for, such as increased health care costs. In fact, a study by Fidelity found that women will need to plan for $147,000 in health care costs, while men will need $133,000 on average. Certain monthly expenses or travel planning can be relatively simple to calculate, but healthcare planning is tricky to plan for because it is unpredictable. One way to prepare for these costs is to make sure you have secure, steady income in retirement. Fixed indexed annuities (FIAs) offer both principal protection and lifetime income in retirement and can help balance a portfolio.

Working Years & Lifetime Income

Social Security benefits are based on 35 years of employment, with a minimum of 10 years to draw benefits. Because each year of work is averaged into the social security benefit, those with fewer than 35 years will have lower monthly payments. Women often have fewer working years under their belt, as many take time off work to take care of their families, either their young children or aging parents. To help offset this gap, women can work a few extra years before retiring or delay Social Security benefits until they are 70 to help increase benefits. Remember, we have free calculators, specifically for Social Security payments, so you can get an idea of your monthly income.

This Women’s History Month, rememeber that women are leading the charge and feeling more optimistic about all the opportunities in retirement and actively planning for the fulfilling years ahead.