Feinstein, Murray, Schakowsky, Underwood Announce Bill to Address Retirement Gap, Strengthen Women’s Financial Futures
Mar 29 2019
Washington - Today, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.), to introduce the Women’s Retirement Protection Act of 2019 (WRPA), legislation to address the retirement gap and bolster women’s financial security. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), women of retirement age typically have an income that is three-fourths that of men, and they are 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished. Women not only have fewer resources than men to support themselves in retirement, they also tend to live longer than men, meaning they must make their smaller retirement savings stretch over a longer period of time.
“As we fight for the economic equality, opportunity, and security of women in the workforce, we must also fight for those in retirement and make sure all women have the resources they need to support themselves and their families throughout their lives,” said Senator Murray. “That’s why I’m fighting to address the retirement gap with steps like ensuring equal pay, that would give women more income to plan their financial futures around, and legislation like the Women’s Retirement Protection Act that would help women get the tools and resources they need to prepare for retirement.”
“On the heels of passing the Paycheck Fairness Act in the House, and on the eve of Equality Day, our work to win full equality for women in America must include addressing the retirement gap,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “Because they are much more likely to earn less than their male counterparts, women in America typically have less money saved up for retirement. The Women’s Retirement Protection Act takes crucial steps toward closing that gap. It improves spousal access to retirement plans, makes more long-term and part-time workers eligible for retirement plans, and improves financial literacy. Coupled with our ongoing effort to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, this bill would go a long way in ensuring a secure retirement for American women. I am proud to once again join Senator Murray in this effort and to have my friend and colleague from Illinois, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, by my side here in the House.”
“Women deserve the same economic opportunity as men throughout their lifetimes, but often retirement is left out of that conversation as women continue to face disproportionate barriers. Retirement security is economic security,” said Congresswoman Underwood. “I’m honored to introduce this bill alongside Senator Murray and Congresswoman Schakowsky to ensure women have equal opportunity as they plan their financial futures.”
WRPA includes a set of solutions to address the retirement gap and some of the challenges that disproportionately affect women as they plan for their financial futures. The legislation would strengthen consumer protections to safeguard retirement savings, improve access to retirement savings plans for long-term, part-time workers, increase access to information about retirement and savings tools, and help low-income women and survivors of domestic abuse get the retirement benefits they are entitled to following a divorce.
- Strengthen consumer protections to safeguard retirement savings by expanding existing spousal protections for defined benefit plans to defined contributions plans to prevent one spouse from making decisions that might undermine a couple’s retirement resources without the other’s knowledge and consent;
- Expand access to retirement savings plans by changing the minimum participation standards for long-term, part-time workers—most of whom are women;
- Increase access to information about retirement and savings tools by providing grants for community-based organizations to help provide information about financial tools to women who are of working or retirement age;
- Support low-income women and survivors of domestic abuse seeking retirement benefits by providing grants for community-based organizations that assist them in obtaining qualified domestic relations orders, the legal instruments that allow for the division of retirement benefits—assuring they receive the retirement benefits they are entitled to following a divorce or legal separation.
In addition to Feinstein and Murray, Senate co-sponsors of the Women’s Retirement Protection Act of 2019 includeSenators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).
The legislation has also been endorsed by AARP, National Women’s Law Center, Pension Rights Center, and the Society for Financial Education and Professional Development.