WASHINGTON, D.C. -- An Oregon woman testified before the Senate Finance Committee, Tuesday, during a hearing on the Social Security gender gap. Barbara Perrin explained to Senators how, despite her best efforts, her savings were depleted by divorce, the recession and a poor housing market. "I always planned to continue working and to supplement my income with my social security, my savings and my home equity. Instead, I’m living on social security. My benefit, while reliable, is also low and I need food stamps and energy assistance to make ends meet."
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden chairs the Finance Committee and said women earn 78-cents on the dollar compared to men, resulting in less retirement savings. "According to the census bureau, retired women are nearly twice as likely as retired men to live in poverty. And data from 2011 shows that women are falling deeper into poverty much more quickly than men. Those women are, in effect, simply trying to find a way to pay for the essentials." He added that more women depend on Social Security for nearly all of their income in retirement than men and, because they live longer, savings must stretch further. The committee discussed a number of ideas to close the gender gap, including boosting social security benefits for women who outlive their spouses and removing the gender bias so couples and their children receive equal benefits.