Widows and divorcees losing out on pension wealth

Around 1.5 million widows in the UK have lost out on pension income following the death of their partner.

The new research from equity release lender more2life and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) found that 59% of widows over the age of 55 missed out on income in later life.

For men who lost a partner, only 16% of widowers experienced the same reduction in retirement income, demonstrating a disparity in later life income between men and women.

Also within the research is the discovery that 39% of women lost out on retirement income due to divorce or separation from their partner. Only 21% of men experienced the same.

Divorced households are also more likely to spend more each month, with 23% of divorced households surveyed claiming their expenditure is higher than their income on an occasional or regular basis.

Only a third of women have independent pension wealth, while 17% said they jointly own pension wealth with their spouse or partner.

However, 40% of women reported having no pension wealth whatsoever.

According to the research, nearly half of over-55s men plan to rely on a defined benefit (final salary) pension in later life, compared to just 30% of women.

A quarter of men plan to rely on personal investments to fund their retirement, with only 13% of women saying the same.

However, more women than men plan to use property wealth in retirement, with 27% of women compared to 21% of men, highlighting the importance of considering all sources of wealth in later life.

Other than private and workplace pensions, three-quarters of over-55s say they will rely on their state pension income in retirement, with a similar split between men and women.

Dave Harris, Chief Executive Officer at more2life, comments:

“Today’s research is further evidence that the later life income discrepancy between men and women is a serious issue that we need to comprehensively address. A lack of independent pension wealth or relying on a partner’s income isn’t something that can be fixed overnight, so we need to raise awareness of the alternative options available for women in later life to boost their income in retirement.

“With more than a quarter of women owning property wealth in later life, it’s vital that they know how unlocking the value in their homes can be the difference between just making ends meet and living comfortably in retirement. Solutions such as equity release are popular amongst older homeowners looking to use their housing wealth to help fund their retirement. We need to make sure the over-55s, and women in particular, are supported as they make choices around how they use their assets to achieve the retirement they deserve.”