WINDSOR, Conn., Sept. 20, 2016—According to a new LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute study, half of working women who have taken leave to take care of a family member (parent, child, etc.) are worried about the impact their leave will have to their retirement security.
“When women disrupt their employment to take care of family members it usually has a negative impact on their overall retirement savings levels and has the possibility of reducing their Social Security benefit,” noted Cecilia Shiner, assistant research director, LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute. “This study was designed to quantify one of the challenges facing working women trying to prepare for retirement and highlight ways they can compensate for the lost income if they do have to temporarily leave their job to care for a loved one.”
The most common reason women take leave is to care for children (35 percent), which is not surprising since 7 in 10 mothers with children under 18 work outside the home. Although childcare leave is fairly widespread, it is also easier to plan for than when older relatives fall ill. The study found that more than half of caregiving Millennials saved more money for retirement to make up for leaves and are more likely to have done so than older generations (chart).
Forty percent of working women proactively compensated for gaps in their employment because they needed to leave their job to care for a family member. Actions they took included:
- Saved additional money in a non-workplace savings plan or account – 19%;
- Increased workplace retirement savings rate prior to or following their leave – 15%;
- Increased spouse/partner’s workplace retirement savings rate before or after taking leave – 14%
- Other action– 1%
*respondents could select multiple answers
“As our population ages (1 in 4 Americans will be over age 60 by 2030), the demand for caregiving will increase and if history is any indication, much of this will fall on women,” said Shiner. “The MetLife Mature Market Institute estimates that the cost in lost wages and Social Security benefits could be as high as $324,044 for women in their 50s who had to stop working. It is important that we educate women on ways they can mitigate the loss of income – and therefore retirement savings – that occurs if they have to stop working to provide caregiving.”
These results are based on a May/June 2016 survey of 1,864 women who are household decision makers, ages 20 to 75, and working for pay.