U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) reintroduced legislation Monday that would bolster women’s financial security and address the retirement gap.
The Women’s Retirement Protection Act of 2021 (WRPA) comes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. In a recent survey, 40 percent of the women surveyed said they expect the past year to have a long-term impact on their finances.
“COVID-19 has upended the finances of families across the country and led to severe job loss, especially in sectors like child care that disproportionately employ women, particularly women of color. Even before this pandemic, women in America typically had less money saved for retirement, in part because they were paid less than their male counterparts for the same work throughout their careers,” Murray said. “Inequities, like investments, compound over time—which is why it is so critical we take action now to address how this pandemic and other challenges are undermining women’s financial futures.”
The WRPA bill provides a set of solutions that work to close the retirement gap by addressing some of the challenges facing women regarding their financial futures. The legislation would strengthen consumer protections to safeguard retirement savings by expanding spousal protections; ensure more part-time workers are offered retirement savings plans by expanding the minimum participation standards; increase access to information about retirement and savings tools by providing grants to organizations that provide information and financial tools; and support women with low incomes and survivors of domestic abuse seeking retirement benefits through grants to organizations that will assist them.
“Women, especially women with low incomes and women of color, were facing a retirement crisis even before the pandemic. Without swift and targeted action, women will feel the impact of the past year and a half of economic devastation for the rest of their lives. The Women’s Retirement Protection Act will take meaningful steps to safeguard and protect women’s retirement security,” said Amy Matsui, Director of Income Security at the National Women’s Law Center.
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