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Women and Social Security Alert No. 26

March 2010; New research from IWPR and news on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

ITEMS IN THIS ALERT:

New Research

  • IWPR Releases Two New Briefing Papers and a Fact Sheet on Social Security

In the News

  • President Obama Establishes National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform


NEW RESEARCH

IWPR Releases Two New Briefing Papers and a Fact Sheet on Social Security

This month, IWPR released two updated briefing papers on Social Security,Women and Social Security: Benefit Types and Eligibility and Social Security: Vital to Retirement Security for 35 Million Women and Men and a fact sheet entitled, “Who Are Social Security Beneficiaries?”  (These are the ones mentioned in Women SSA No. 25 for a January release – release was delayed until March.)

Women and Social Security: Benefit Types and Eligibility describes how women can be eligible for different types of Social Security benefits – retired worker, disabled worker, and survivor benefits – as a worker, spouse, or a family member.  It also provides information on the number of “dually-entitled” women who are entitled to retirement benefits as workers and spouses of workers.  Moreover, it reports detailed information on the number of family members who are entitled to retirement, disability, and survivor benefits as spouses or children of workers.  The study is based on data from the Social Security Administration’s 2008 Annual Statistical Supplement.  It is available here:http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/D488WomenandSS.pdf .

“Who Are Social Security Beneficiaries?” summarizes date from the Briefing Paper, explaining who receives Social Security benefits (using data from the Social Security Administration’s 2008 Annual Statistical Supplement).  It provides a graphic illustrating how many women are entitled to Social Security benefits as workers, as spouses of workers, or as both workers and spouses of workers (the dually entitled) across all types of benefit receipt.  The Fact Sheet also provides an analysis of women Social Security beneficiaries by race.  The Fact Sheet is available at: http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/D489SSben.pdf .

Social Security: Vital to Retirement Security for 35 Million Women and Menexamines major sources of income for older Americans—earnings, Social Security, pensions, and assets—by gender and marital status. It shows that after age 65, Social Security is the most common and the largest source of income for both women and men. Over 85 percent of women and men aged 65 and older receive income from Social Security. It also shows that women are much more likely than men to be widowed and to live alone, making them highly vulnerable to economic insecurity. Having less access to other sources of income, women rely on Social Security even more than men do. The study is based on data from the 2009 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement Survey collected by the Census Bureau.  It is available here:http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/D487SSVital.pdf .


IN THE NEWS

President Obama Establishes National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform

On Tuesday, February 18, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order to establish the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.  The Commission was created as part of a January agreement that ensured Senators Kent Conrad (ND) and Judd Gregg (NH) would vote in favor of raising the federal debt ceiling and stop pursuing their proposal for a bipartisan deficit commission that would have entailed a mandatory fast track vote on its recommendations.

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform will be Co-Chaired by Erskine Bowles, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff, and Alan Simpson, former Republican Senate Whip.  The Commission consists of 18 members including 6 members appointed by the President (no more than 4 of can be of the same party), three members appointed by the Senate Majority Leader, 3 members appointed by the Speaker of the House, 3 members appointed by the Senate Minority Leader, and 3 members appointed by the House Minority Leader.  President Obama has also appointed David Cote, Chairman, CEO, and President of Honeywell, Ann Fudge, Chair and CEO of Young and Rubicam Brands, Alice Rivlin, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and visiting professor at Georgetown University, and Andy Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union to serve on the Commission.

By December 1, 2010, the Commission will vote on a final report.  The report must receive 14 of 18 votes to be adopted by the Commission and the Senate Majority Leader promised to give the final report an up or down vote in the Senate by the end of the session.  The House leadership has also agreed to vote on the Senate’s recommendations by the end of the session.  This timing ensures that legislators will not be held responsible for their actions related to the Commission’s recommendations in the 2010 midterm elections.

According to the Executive Order, “The Commission is charged with identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run.  Specifically, the Commission shall propose recommendations designed to balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015.”  Though the White House has stated that the Commission will consider all revenues and expenditures, there are still concerns that the Commission will target entitlement spending since they are the only expenditures specifically addressed in the Executive Order.  Many aging groups and other interested groups are encouraging the Commission to fully examine the tax and spending policies that created the large deficits.  Moreover, they are encouraging the Commission to consider raising the cap on the Social Security payroll taxes for the wealthiest Americans instead of cutting benefits and to control Medicare costs by supporting comprehensive healthcare reform.  Advocates also emphasize the important role that Social Security benefits play in keeping seniors out of poverty during today’s unstable economic times.

The Executive Order establishing the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/executive-order-national-commission-fiscal-responsibility-and-reform.

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