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The Social Security Benefit Gender Gap is Shrinking

The percentage of women who have worked in jobs with Social Security payroll tax deductions has increased dramatically in recent years, a reflection of the increased participation by women in the workforce. As a result, women now can qualify for both retirement and disability benefits from SSA in far greater numbers. In 1970, the proportion of women who had worked enough and therefore were “insured” for disability benefits was only 41%. By 2013, that number increased to 73%. During this same period of time, the percentage of men “insured” for disability has decreased slightly, from 84% to 78%. As of 2013, the gap between men and women insured for disability was only 5%, as compared to a much larger gap of 43% difference between the rate of men and women in 1970.

The chart below shows the percentage of the population who has worked sufficiently for Social Security retirement and disability benefits, by sex, between 1970 and 2013.

Source: SSA, Office of the Chief Actuary

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