Thursday, March 16, 2006

Senate Committee on Aging Holds Hearing on Bridging Gender Retirement Gap

On March 15, Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith, chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, held a hearing Wednesday titled "Bridging the Gender Gap: Eliminating Retirement Income Disparity for Women," with a goal of highlighting the challenges faced by women in planning for retirement and to find ways to increase women's savings rates. In his opening statement, Smith pointed out that in addition to earning less than men, many women spend significant periods of time out of the workforce raising children or taking care of elderly parents and are more likely to work part-time or work in industries where employers are less likely to offer retirement benefits. He also pointed to legislative initiatives that he has undertaken to close the geneder gap, as did ranking Democrat Sen. Herb Kohl in his opening statement.

The commitee heard from two sets of witnesses. In the first panel were Jean Chatzky, editor-at-large for Money Magazine and financial editor for NBC’s Today Show, Cindy Hounsell, executive director, Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), Barbara B. Kennelly, President, National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, and Dr. Jack L. VanDerhei, EBRI Fellow, Employee Benefit Research Institute. In the second panel were Karyne Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer, The National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, Inc., Sara C. Hart, Director, Corporate Benefits, CNF Service Company, and Lynn Rollins, Senior Advisor, Women’s Issues to New York Governor Pataki.

A webcast of the hearings is available online.

In addition, women advocacy organizations, members of Americans for Secure Retirement (ASR), told the Committee about the particulary pressing challenges women face to achieving financial security and independence in retirement. The groups urged the Committee to adopt policies that encourage annuitization as a way to help women ensure a steady stream of income for life.

Source: Press Release Americans for Secure Retirement (March 15, 2006)

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