Women may have come a long way in terms of their earning power, but they still have a long way to go before closing in on the male/female retirement savings gap. Income disparities over the past 30 years have translated into a 25% to 30% retirement savings shortfall for women that men with the similar savings and investing patterns do not have, according to a new research report from the Insured Retirement Institute. The study found that half of Boomer men have retirement savings of at least $200,000 compared with only 35% of women who reached this level of savings. "Due to persisting income disparities, a retirement income glass ceiling has been placed over women, and it is limiting their ability to fund a secure retirement," IRI President and CEO Cathy Weatherford said in a statement.Income disparities are not solely to blame for women's retirement income "glass ceiling," the study argued. Because women are more likely than men to be caregivers, they've spent more time out of the work force and therefore have accumulated less in social security and employer-provided retirement benefits. Many working women decreased their hours (33%), passed up promotions, training and assignments (29%), switched to part-time work (20%) and quit their jobs (16%) to care for a family member, according to a national study cited in the report. Retirement income planning for women is further complicated by women's longer life spans and higher healthcare costs. IRI estimates that a 65-year-old woman can expect health costs, including premiums, to be 13% higher than those of a man.The challenges present opportunities for financial advisors. More than one in three Baby Boomer women (34%) did not know when they plan on retiring, "presenting an education opportunity for advisors on retirement planning," the report said. Moreover, less than half of Baby Boomer women (47%) consulted an advisor, even though only four in 10 women who are at least 55 years old believe they have done a good job in planning for retirement. Other findings from the report include: o The average monthly benefit paid to a retired female worker in December 2010 was $1,022.90 compared with $1,323.10 for a retired male worker, a difference of 23%, according to the Social Security Administration.o The average defined contribution account balance in 2011 for a woman was $59,104 compared with $94,063 for a man, according to Vanguard research. o Only a third of Boomer women are highly confident that they will have enough money to cover their health care expenses during retirement versus 41% of Boomer men. o More than 43% of Boomer women expect to retire at age 65 or later and more than 34% do not know when they will retire. o When selecting a retirement investment product, the most important traits to Boomer women are guaranteed monthly income, financial advisor recommendation, and rate of return.

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