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Women and Social Security Alert No. 33

February 2011; Responses to President Obama's State of the Union Address, plus new research from IWPR.

ITEMS IN THIS ALERT:

In the News

    • President Obama's State of the Union Address
    • New Commission Forms to Protect Social Security: Latinos for a Secure Retirement
    • OWES Statement

            Upcoming Events

              • Woman's National Democratic Club and NOW Luncheon: Why We Need to Save and Even Strengthen Social Security - For Women, their Families and the Nation

                  Action Alert

                  • National Gay and Lesbian Task Force petition: "Hands Off Social Security!"

                    New Research

                    • Institute for Women's Policy Research Report: Social Security: Especially Vital to Women and People of Color, Men Increasingly Reliant
                    • Social Security and Medicare Taxes and Benefits Over a Lifetime by C. Eugene Steuerle, Stephanie Rennane
                    • Economic Policy Institute Report: Beyond Normal: Raising the Retirement Age Is the Wrong Approach for Social Security
                    • CBPP Report: Social Security Benefits are Modest: Policymakers Have Only Limited Room to Reduce Benefits Without Causing Hardship
                      • National Women's Law Center Fact Sheet: Women and Social Security: Key Facts

                       

                      IN THE NEWS

                      President Obama's State of the Union

                      In his January 25th State of the Union address, President Obama mentioned an interest in protecting Social Security:

                      "To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans' guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market."

                      Many Social Security advocates were pleased that Obama included a message of support for Social Security in his speech, but wished he had indicated a stronger commitment to not cutting benefits. They found the word "slashing" particularly ambiguous.

                      New Coalition Forms to Protect Social Security: Latinos for Secure Retirement

                      On January 18th, a group of prominent Latino/Latina organizations announced the formation of a coalition to protect Social Security and released a plan for strengthening the program called "Protecting Social Security: A Blueprint for Strengthening Social Security for All Americans," which proposes to do so without raising the retirement age or cutting benefits.

                      OWES Statement

                      On January 26, the Older Women's Economic Security Task Force (OWES) of the National Council of Women's Organizations released an updated statement on safeguarding Social Security, which emphases women's greater reliance on the program and how it does not contribute to the deficit.


                      Pew Poll reveals 66% of Americans view Social Security as a "Top Policy Priority"

                      A national poll of 1,503 adults by the Pew Research Center on January 5-9 revealed that 66% of Americans rank Social Security as a "Top Policy Priority." Some other areas which ranked above Social Security were the economy, jobs, education, and terrorism. Meanwhile, the budget deficit, health care legislation, and illegal immigration ranked below it.

                       

                      UPCOMING EVENTS

                      Woman's National Democratic Club and NOW Luncheon: Why We Need to Save and Even Strengthen Social Security - For Women, their Families and the Nation
                      Thursday, January 27 - Friday, January 28, National Press Club


                      February 15, 2011 11:30am 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20036

                      Moderator: Edith U. Fierst

                      Panelists: Dr. Heidi Hartman, President, Institute for Women's Policy Research

                      Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security, National Women's Law Center

                      Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, President & CEO of Global Policy Solutions

                      Terry O'Neill, President, National Organization of Women

                      Maria Freese, Counsel and Director of Government Relations and Policy, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

                      Please register here.

                      ACTION ALERTS

                      National Gay and Lesbian Task Force petition: "Hands Off Social Security!"


                      Americans are increasingly reliant on Social Security in their retirement. However, Social Security is especially important for LGBT people, who have less income in retirement. Sign this petition to tell Senators that America can't afford cuts to Social Security benefits.

                      NEW RESEARCH

                      Institute for Women's Policy Research Report: Social Security: Especially Vital to Women and People of Color, Men Increasingly Reliant


                      New research by Heidi Hartmann, Jeff Hayes, and Robert Drago finds that reliance on Social Security for retirement income has increased dramatically since 1999-particularly among men. Contributing factors include loss of assets during the most recent recession, as well as shifts toward higher risk pension plans. Between 1999 and 2009, the number of men aged 65 and older relying on Social Security for at least 80 percent of their incomes increased by 48 percent (from 3.8 million to 5.7 million) to equal more than a third of all men aged 65 and older in 2009. The increase for comparable women was 26 percent (from 8.2 million to 10.3 million) to equal half of older women in 2009. Minorities tend to be more reliant on Social Security than whites are, as they are considerably less likely than whites to have asset or pension income. Women benefit disproportionately from Social Security because the program is designed to pay proportionally higher benefits to lower earning workers and women tend to earn less than men. Women also benefit from the program's family benefits. In 2009, Social Security helped more than 14 million Americans aged 65 and older stay above the poverty line. Without access to Social Security, 58 percent of women and 48 percent of men above the age of 75 would be living below the poverty line.


                      Social Security and Medicare Taxes and Benefits Over a Lifetime by C. Eugene Steurele, Stephanie Rennane

                      This piece provides information on the lifetime values of Social Security and Medicare taxes and benefits for workers in different generations at different earnings levels. The Urban Institute also recently released a fact sheet called Poverty among Older Americans, 2009 by Philip Issa and Sheila R. Zedlewski, which looks at the topic across gender, race, age, education, etc.

                      Economic Policy Institute Report: Beyond Normal: Raising the Retirement Age Is the Wrong Approach for Social Security


                      Written by Monique Morrissey, this report examines the demographic and labor market changes that have affected Social Security's finances. It explains how increased life expectancy contributes only a small part to the Social Security shortfall, but that slow wage growth and increased earnings inequality are much bigger contributors.

                      CBPP Report: Social Security Benefits are Modest: Policymakers Have Only Limited Room to Reduce Benefits Without Causing Hardship

                      In this report, Kathy A. Ruffing and Paul N. Van de Water provide an overview of the size of retirees' income from Social Security and other sources. They conclude that Social Security benefits are modest and that most beneficiaries lack much income from other sources.

                      National Women's Law Center Fact Sheet: Women and Social Security: Key Facts


                      Released in January, this fact sheet provides an overview of how Social Security affects women. Key facts from this piece include: Social Security is the only income source for one in four women age 65 and older; half of women age 65 and older would live in poverty without Social Security; and women are more reliant on Social Security than men, yet receive lower benefits.

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