Taking Care of Ourselves: Health and Money Smarts for Women

We know that women often put the needs of others before their own, even when it comes to their physical and mental health and financial security. This Women’s History Month, we celebrate women and are sharing tips to help you learn more about your rights and options when it comes to safeguarding your health and planning for retirement. 

With factors like the wage gap, women working more frequently in part-time jobs with less access to retirement plans and interrupting their careers to take care of loved ones, saving for retirement can be a challenge. On top of that, women tend to live longer than men and need to save for a longer retirement. 

Remember to make time for your physical, mental, and financial well-being – recognizing that while there may be challenges, there are steps you can take – and that you’re not alone. The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) offers resources and assistance to help:

Your Physical & Mental Health

  • Use Preventive Health Services: Services like check-ups, cancer screenings and support for breastfeeding are often covered by your job-based health plan at no cost. Read your plan’s Summary Plan Description for detailed information on covered benefits. Learn more with Top 10 Ways to Make Your Health Benefits Work for You.
  • Look After Your Mental Health: Mental health is just as important as our physical health. If your workplace health plan offers mental health or substance use disorder benefits, they should be as easy to use as your physical health benefits. Learn more from Understanding Your Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits.
  • Know Your Rights Regarding Mastectomy: For anyone facing breast cancer, the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act provides protections for related services. With these protections, your mastectomy and any breast reconstruction are covered. Learn more with Your Rights After A Mastectomy.   

Your Future Financial Security

  • Join and Understand Your Retirement Plan: If your job offers a retirement plan and you don’t already participate, sign up! It’s the simplest way to save for your future. Then learn about how your plan works – ask for your plan’s Summary Plan Description if you haven’t already received one. Save all that you can and be sure to contribute enough to get any employer matching contribution. This is free money! Find out more from What You Should Know About Your Retirement Plan
  • Learn Your Options When You Change Jobs: If you leave your job, you have choices about what to do with your retirement savings. You may be able to move it to the plan at your new job, roll it into an Individual Retirement Account, or possibly leave it where it is. If you leave your savings in the old plan, be sure to keep your contact information up to date so your former employer and former plan can find you – and don’t lose track of your money.  Find out more in Women and Retirement. In addition, when you change jobs or have other life events (like getting married, welcoming a new child into the family or retiring) you may have options to continue your health coverage or join another health plan. Find out more in Life Changes Require Health Choices…Know Your Benefit Options and Work Changes Require Health Choices…Protect Your Rights.

These steps will help you get started. EBSA has information and tools to prepare you to make informed decisions about your well-being and retirement security. To find these resources, visit the EBSA website. You also can contact an EBSA Benefits Advisor with your questions: visit askebsa.dol.gov or call 1-866-444-3272 for assistance. Women’s History Month celebrates empowering women – unleash your full power when it comes to your health and a secure financial future with EBSA at your side. 

About the Author: Lisa M. Gomez is the Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration

This blog originally appeared at the U.S. Department of Labor Blog on March 20, 2024.

Read more about workplace health and safety at Workplace Fairness.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa se yon 3L nan Syracuse University College of Law. Li gradye nan Eta Penn ak yon diplòm nan jounalis. Avèk rechèch legal li ak ekri pou San Patipri Travay, li fè efò yo ekipe moun ki gen enfòmasyon yo bezwen yo dwe pwòp defansè yo pi byen.