New Bill Would Help Women's Retirement Outlook

The Women’s Pension Protection Act increases spousal protections and improves retirement plan coverage for long-term part-time workers.

Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington) introduced H.R. 4235, The Women’s Pension Protection Act.

The Women’s Pension Protection Act:

  • Increases Spousal Protections – Spousal protections for benefit plans require married workers to get their spouse’s consent to take money out of the couple’s retirement account. Currently spousal protections are only available for defined benefit plans, but the Act would extend spousal protections to the growing category of defined contribution plans.
  • Improves Retirement Coverage for Long-Term Part-Time Workers – The bill would amend the current minimum participation standard—the completion of 1,000 hours during a 12-month period—for workers to participate in their employer’s retirement plan. Under the Act, workers who complete 500 hours of service for three consecutive years will be eligible to participate in their employer’s retirement plan.
  • Creates Access to Consumer Information – The bill will require that, in any offer to sell a financial product or service, financial providers shall provide a link to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website with information relating to retirement planning or later-in-life economic security.
  • Awards Grants to Promote Financial Literacy for Women – The Act will award grants of at least $250,000 to community-based organizations to improve the financial literacy of women who are of working or retirement age.

“On average women face a 26% gap in retirement savings compared to men, while also being much more likely to earn less than their male counterparts,” Schakowsky noted in a statement. “This is why I and my Senate colleague, Patty Murray, have introduced legislation that would increase women’s access to retirement security by improving spousal protections to retirement plans such as 401(k)s, making more long-term and part-time workers eligible for retirement plans, and improving financial literacy. By enacting these reforms we can improve the economic and retirement security of women and all Americans.”