Women approach retirement with the deck stacked against them. They work for lower pay than their male counterparts—in 2017, the median earnings of women working full time and year round in the U.S. was 80.5 percent of men's median earnings—miss time from the workforce to raise children and care for family members in need of aid (sometimes both at once) and often find themselves shut out of advancement and promotions along with the commensurate raises.

As a result, they're often getting by on less money than they really need, which not only puts them in a precarious financial position during their working years but makes it tough for them to set aside money for retirement—particularly since, in addition to all those other financial handicaps, women generally carry more student debt than men, thus having to stretch meager pay even further.

That all adds up to lower savings by the time they've reached retirement age—but the hits just keep on coming, including the challenges of longevity, and with it, health. Yes, it's not good news, but at least it won't be a surprise. And given the eons-old grit and resourcefulness women have honed, there is hope for finding solutions at least at the individual level for dealing with this.

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.

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