The Inequality of Distributions From Retirement Plans Benefits Quarterly (03/01/02) Vol. 18, No. 1 p.38; Trewin, Janet; Curatola, Anthony P.
Apart from typically lower incomes and breaks in their work lives, women's retirement plans are adversely affected by longer life expectancies. Even if men and women contribute identically to their retirement plans--and both plans perform the same--differences will still result. For example, if both a man and a women amass $885,185 and retire at age 65, the woman will be able to withdraw $8,815 per month from her Roth IRA compared to the man's $9,664 per month because the woman is expected to live longer. Her longer life expectancy means she must take smaller withdrawals over the course of her life. To ensure sufficient retirement income until she dies, a woman could retire later than a man would. Another way to equalize men and women's retirement income is to boost IRA contribution limits exclusively for women, as Congress originally envisioned to promote fairness for women. The law that was eventually created, however, applies to both men and women over age 50.