“Her mother, who taught in a one-room schoolhouse in the hills of Kentucky a century ago, had some words of wisdom for Adna Bert Baldwin: A woman should be independent and have money to pay her own way.

Ms. Baldwin, 81, took that advice seriously. She married young, to her high school sweetheart, but followed in her mother’s footsteps, teaching elementary school students not far from Cincinnati for 27 years. The pension she earned when she retired two decades ago left her more secure than her mother, Adna Burns, who taught in an era when the idea of paid retirement was just emerging for teachers.

For Ms. Baldwin, her teacher’s pension affords her a comfortable middle-class life. It’s not a huge amount, about $2,100 monthly, but more than if she had been forced to rely on her late husband’s pension from his job as a railroad engineer.

“From Day 1, I considered it a good thing,” Ms. Baldwin said. “It means I can stay in my house, which is paid for, and I am debt-free.”

Ms. Baldwin is among a relatively small group of older women who enjoy decent pensions. Many women of her generation did not qualify for retirement benefits because they took time away from the workplace, or worked part time, to raise children or tend to aging parents. As a result, the majority over 70 rely on Social Security for most of their income, with an average monthly check of around $1,300.” -NY Times

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