For many women in their 60s and older, Social Security checks are the all-important means of survival.
But for older female immigrants those benefits often don't exist. After spending their working lives taking care of their families or working off-the-books in low-wage jobs, they don't qualify.
So what do they do? The answer, according to a recent study by a New York group, is many just keep on working.
"These women are an invisible population," says Ana Oliveira, president and CEO of the New York Women's Foundation, an alliance that seeks to improve the financial well-being of women and girls, the group that produced the report. "Unless one stands in school yards to note how many grandmothers are picking up their grandchildren who depend on them, it can be all too easy to assume that these women are enjoying a well-deserved rest after years of family raising responsibilities."
Instead, lacking retirement income or savings, they survive by doing the same traditional women's work they have done all along: caring for family. While it used to be for their children, now it is for grandchildren and disabled relatives.
"The vast majority of immigrant women came to New York City to take care of their families or be taken cared of by their families," says Susan Leicher, author of the report, who spoke with Women's eNews in the foundation's office. "Once ensconced in these families, few women were encouraged or even permitted to venture far out. As a result, they had little chance to master English, become citizens and acquire financial assets for their old age."