Social Security & Retirement Issues
We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family...
President Franklin D. Roosevelt upon signing the SS Act in 1935.
The Social Security program ... represents our commitment as a society to the belief that workers should not live in dread that a disability, death, or old age could leave them or their families destitute.
- President Jimmy Carter, December 20, 1977
[This law] assures the elderly that America will always keep the promises made in troubled times a half century ago ... [The Social Security Amendments of 1983 are] a monument to the spirit of compassion and commitment that unites us as a people.
- President Ronald Reagan, April 20, 1983.
For more information: AAUW Fact Sheets and Position Papers on Affirmative Action, Athletics, Education, Managed Care Reform, Reproductive Rights, and Social Security Reform.
North Country Matters: Andrea Montgomery, Director of the St. Lawrence Office of the Aging (Oct. 31, 2014)
Updated: June 28, 2015
- Same-sex couples to get big Social Security bonus - Heterosexual married couples have long been able to use Social Security claiming strategies - such as file and suspend, and restricted claim - to maximize their household's benefits.
- How to get the most out of your Social Security benefits - financial columnist Alan Sloan explains the pros and cons of taking Social Security at age 62, at your full retirement age or after you hit 70.
- Food Insecurity Numbers Rising Among Older Coloradans - By 2030, the number of Colorado residents age 65 and older will more than double. According to Kathy Underhill of Hunger Free Colorado, one in seven of the state's seniors struggles with food insecurity or hunger, a 23 percent increase since 2000. "There's a study out of the University of Kentucky that shows that a food insecure or hungry 64-year-old has the active daily limitation of a 78-year-old," said Underhill. The problem is a long-term issue, she noted.
- More older Americans are being buried by housing debt - The baby boom generation was already facing a retirement crunch: Over the past two decades, employers have largely eliminated traditional pensions, forcing workers to manage their retirement savings. Many boomers didn't save enough, invested badly or raided their retirement accounts.
- Seniors Having to Choose Between Food and Medicine - Income, for most elderly Americans, comes largely from Social Security. Almost three-quarters of single Social Security recipients 65 or older depend on Social Security for all or most of their income, which averages only about $1,300 per month. Global AgeWatch reports that income security for U.S. seniors is among the worst in the developed world. It has been estimated that without Social Security benefits 45 percent of seniors would have incomes below the poverty line. The number of Americans who expect Social Security to be a primary source of retirement income has increased by 40 percent over the past 10 years (25% to 35%).
- Homeowners Get Ready to 'Age in Place' - A recent study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University found that less than 25% of homeowners age 55-plus have a bedroom and full bathroom on the first floor of their homes, a way to get into the house without steps, and no steps between rooms-universal design features that make life easier for all ages.
Remodeling can be pricey. But given the high cost of care in an assisted-living facility or nursing home, such improvements can make sense, experts say.
- Number of seniors threatened by hunger has doubled since 2001, and it's going to get worse - The number of seniors uncertain about food more than doubled between 2001 and 2013, and in 2013 an additional 300,000 seniors over age 60 had trouble accessing food. In Naples, Florida, charities provide temporary help, but often have waiting lists, and don't address the underlying poverty causing food insecurity. Outreach workers from the Harry Chapin Food Bank target apartments and senior centers to help seniors apply for SNAP. Seniors can be the hardest to reach, said Al Brislain of the Food Bank, "because part of it's pride, part of it's that they don't have the knowledge of the social service system, and part of it is their isolation.
- New LGBT training on the way for elder service providers - A recent University of Miami study found three-fourths of elder service and other agencies surveyed reported having gay and lesbian clients. Yet less than a third had any specialized training in the needs concerning the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The study, released last month, has prompted a new initiative: the Protect Our Elders campaign, aimed at addressing the issues that advocates say may keep LGBT seniors from seeking services like home health care, bereavement support and retirement housing.
- Aging doesn't always come naturally. Classes are teaching boomers how - Senior co-housing, and all its complications and rewards, was one of the bigger draws at what amounts to a college on how to age successfully. The four- to eight-week courses, presented by nonprofit organization Iona, were designed especially with baby boomers in mind. Since 2011, a generation that has almost continually reinvented itself also has been hitting retirement age.
- Lifelong Wage Gaps Shrink Women's Social Security Checks - Trends in female employment all add up to a "perfect storm" for women's retirement, says a labor economist. Those trends also raise women's stakes in any election-year discussion of adding or subtracting from Social Security. "Social Security is often women's only asset," said Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist. A lifetime of wage disparities and caregiving leaves women with fewer assets, which must stretch further. "After they pay for food, housing and other necessities for themselves and their families, many women have nothing left to put away for retirement."
- AARP Calls For A State-Facilitated Retirement Fund - AARP is calling for New York lawmakers to establish a new, state-facilitated retirement fund to help people save money who don't have workplace access to one. According to AARP, its surveys showed 29 percent of Boomers ranging in age from 51 to 69 lack access to a workplace retirement savings plan. Some 20 percent of Gen Xers, ranging from 35 to 50 years old, are in the same boat. The surveys claim a margin of error of 5 percent.
- AARP warns of 'Gen-Xodus' - A majority of New Yorkers turning 50 this year worry about not saving enough for retirement because of lower confidence in Social Security, fewer guaranteed benefits from retirement plans and more widespread debt, according to a study released last week by AARP NY.
- A Lifeline, Not a Safety Net - More Americans are elderly-over 65-today than at any time in the nation's history. Two-thirds of income for couples between 75 and 85 comes from Social Security, and a sky-high 74.4% for single-person households. For 85-plus households, the figures are nearly as formidable: 61.5% and 67.1%, respectively. That makes Social Security not a safety net in old age, as it's sometimes termed, but quite literally, a lifeline.
- Retirees have more education debt than ever - Retirees are bringing unprecedented levels of student loan debt into their later years, according to a new report that shows Baby Boomers may be woefully unprepared for retirement. The result of helping their kids or grandkids pay for college, those ages 65-74 have nearly six times the amount of education debt now than they did two and a half decades ago, when they had almost none, according to an analysis of government data by LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute. The burden is leaving them vulnerable to financial hardship because they have less available for saving or covering unexpected expenses, LIMRA data show.
- 1 in 5 elderly Americans die broke - In a study of data from the University of Michigan's Healthy and Retirement Study, which included 1,189 Americans who answered a survey in 2010 and died before the 2012 survey, the Employee Benefits Research Institute reports that more than 20 percent of Americans at the end of their lives had no assets apart from their homes, while 12 percent had no assets at all. For recently deceased singles, Social Security provided at least two-thirds of their income. Companion studies show that major medical costs, which can wipe out savings, compromise the financial health of many retirees.
- Most twenty-somethings are actually saving for retirement - About 67% have already stashed away something for retirement, according to a survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. The youngest workers surveyed had a median of $16,000 in total retirement savings, compared to $45,000 for workers in their 30s.
- Are More Seniors Using Mobility Devices? - Statistics show that about one-quarter of adults aged 65 and older are now dependent on certain mobility devices, including canes walkers and wheelchairs. Furthermore, about one third of them reported needing the assistance of multiple devices based on 2011 estimates.
- District ranks fourth in hunger risk for seniors, report says - A new national report on food insecurity among older Americans conducted by two university researchers on behalf of the nonprofit National Foundation to End Senior Hunger and the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities - says nearly 15.5 percent of elders, or 9.6 million people, in the United States face the threat of hunger. That number has increased dramatically in recent years: Between 2001 and 2013, those elders who faced some threat of food insecurity climbed 45 percent, the report says. The problem is most pervasive in the South and Southwest and among racial and ethnic minorities.
- Half of Americans will see their standard of living fall in retirement - About half of American households will not be able to maintain their current standard of living in retirement, according to analysis of Federal Reserve data by the Center for Retirement Research. This means standard of living tradeoffs that could extend to choosing between buying medicine or food. The boomer generation will also receive a lower replacement rate because of changes to Social Security than current retirees, and future retirees will need to stretch their retirement income longer than previous generations.
- What America will look like in 2050 - A big increase in the number of elderly Americans, surging to become nearly the most populous segment of society. One is that Americans have been living longer, meaning that the demarcation of 65 as "old" is more distant from the average life expectancy. Another is that today's so-called Millennials are 2050's 65-plussers. (The most common age in America last year was 22.)
- Older unemployed workers settle for less - A study by the Washington-based association found 48 percent of people between 45 and 70 years old who lost their job in the last five years and have found a new one are making less than they were. Most say they're getting paid less and working fewer hours. The study also says the longer older workers are unemployed, the more likely they will earn less, with 59 percent of the re-employed who suffered a long-term spell of unemployment earning less in their current job, compared to 41 percent who had been short-term unemployed.
- Why putting off retirement savings until you make more money is a big mistake - People who start early can get away with saving a tiny portion of their pay and still have a decent chance at having enough money in retirement (in other words, their money won't run out before they die). But those who put it off need to save dramatically more to catch up.
- In Vote to Expand Social Security, 42 Democratic Senators Vote Yes While Every Republican Votes No - Advocates for expanding Social Security have said that payments today are not enough for the roughly 20 million retirees who receive more than half of their monthly income from Social Security benefits. They have proposed lifting the income tax cap as the simplest and fairest way to expand near-term payments and to build up long-term reserves.
- Women Academics Lack Confidence in Financial Planning - About a third (32 percent) of women professors, administrators and other staff say they lack confidence when it comes to financial planning for retirement, compared to 19 percent of men working in higher education, says a new report from Fidelity Investments.
- The U.S. just barely cracks the top 20 countries when it comes to retirement security - Want more retirement security? It might be time to move to Switzerland. The United States ranked 19th in the world for retirement security, according to an annual ranking of 150 countries by Natixis Global Asset Management. It's held that spot for three years. This year, it is ahead of Slovenia and just behind France.
- How growing income inequality is hurting Social Security - Here's another reason to be concerned about income inequality: it poses a direct threat to the already shaky fiscal health of Social Security, according to a report by the Center for American Progress.
- Claim to fame: Social Security's first recipient - Ludlow, VT: Seventy-five years ago, the government cut 65-year-old Ida May Fuller a check. It was numbered 00-000-001 - the first Social Security payout. Today, even as its future lies in financial uncertainty, many consider Social Security one of government's biggest successes.
- President Obama's 2016 Budget Is Relatively Good on Social Security - The president proposes to move tax revenue from the Social Security retirement fund to the Social Security disability fund, which would otherwise not be able to pay full benefits towards the end of 2016. And, he has dropped his proposal for a reduction in benefits through a chained CPI.
- There's A Gender Pay Gap At Every Age, And It Only Gets Worse As Workers Get Older - A recent Wells Fargo note looks at the gender wage gap broken down by age bracket. There are two things going on here: first, there's a wage gap no matter what the age. Women, even in high school, even after graduating from college, at 16 and 26 and 36, make less than their male peers. But when you look at all workers over 25, the gap increases - women of all ages make only 80% of what their male peers make.
- MEDICARE PATIENTS COULD SEE BETTER CARE - The Obama administration Monday announced a goal of accelerating changes to Medicare so that within four years, half the program's traditional spending will go to doctors, hospitals and other providers that coordinate their
patient care, stressing quality and frugality.
- Medicare at 50: Moving Forward - In the second part of their report in the New England Journal of Medicine on Medicare's past, present, and future, The Commonwealth Fund's David Blumenthal, M.D., and Stuart Guterman, and Karen Davis of the Johns Hopkins University Lipitz Center for Integrated Healthcare examine the program's challenges and weigh the options for both incremental and comprehensive reform. The authors review the pros and cons of new methods for rewarding providers that improve quality and lower costs, from value-based purchasing to bundled payment. They also discuss the potential of "premium support"-advocated by those who favor a market-based approach-and proposals to greatly simplify Medicare and incentivize consumers to choose high-value providers.
- Medicare at 50-Origins and Evolution - Since 1965, Medicare has provided millions of older and disabled Americans with guaranteed access to affordable health care. The broad popularity of the program, however, belies the intensely ideological struggle that preceded its creation and that continues in the debate over its future. In the first report of a two-part series published in the New England Journal of Medicine, David Blumenthal, M.D., Karen Davis, and Stuart Guterman trace the origins of Medicare and discuss its accomplishments, the changes it has undergone, and the challenges that remain.
- Expanding Social Security Is the Cheapest Way to Bring More Security to America's Retirees - There are many ways to spread the cost of better benefits. How should the costs of an expanded Social Security be shared without unduly burdening anyone? There are numerous options, all quite affordable, reasonable, good policy, and fair.
- Report: NY taxes are 10th worst for retirees - Kiplinger, which puts out personal finance magazines and newsletters is out with a ranking of retiree-unfriendly or friendly states, based on their tax burdens and New York is 10th worst nationally. Kiplinger does note that New York State doesn't impose a sales tax on items such as food and drugs and portions of private pensions are tax exempt as the entirety of public sector pensions.
- Where America's Social Security benefits go, in four maps - Most Social Security recipients - including retired or disabled workers, plus their spouses and children, and in some cases their parents - receive benefits through the Old-Age, Survivors and Disability (OASDI) program.
- The massive retirement gap for CEOs versus workers - When it comes to how income inequality can impact retirement, one has to look no further than the CEO suite. The country's shift to 401(k)s puts the onus on workers themselves to contribute money to their retirements. In an October survey from investment firm BlackRock, many respondents said they were unable to set aside retirement savings because of low earnings, high living costs and unplanned expenses. On average, Americans have saved only about $58,000 for their retirements, BlackRock found.
- Stop the False War of Words on Seniors Who Need Social Security - The country faces a major retirement security crisis. In other words, nearly half are either already unable to meet some basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter, or are one serious economic setback away from not being able to do so. The percentage of women in this category of economic vulnerability is even higher. More than one out of two-52.6 percent-are poor, or economically vulnerable and at risk. Despite the stereotype of wealthy seniors, the economic security of even those seniors who do not fall into the various categories of economic vulnerability is not assured.
- 5 Reasons Why Social Security Matters for Women's Economic Security - The most recent Census Bureau data show that the average woman working full time, year round earns 78 cents for every $1 earned by their male counterparts. Because the gender wage gap can lead to an estimated loss of more than $400,000 over the course of a 40-year career period, and because women tend to outlive their male counterparts, women are more susceptible to risks that often create economic insecurity in old age.
- Social Security continuing to pursue claims against family members for old debts - The Social Security Administration, which announced in April that it would stop trying to collect debts from the children of people who were allegedly overpaid benefits decades ago, has continued to demand such payments and now defends that practice in court documents.
- Congressional leaders hammer out deal to allow pension plans to cut retiree benefits - A bipartisan group of congressional leaders reached a deal Tuesday evening that would for the first time allow the benefits of current retirees to be severely cut, part of an effort to save some of the nation's most distressed pension plans. The measure, attached to a massive $1.01 trillion spending bill, would alter 40 years of federal law and could affect millions of workers, many of them part of a shrinking corps of middle-income employees in businesses such as trucking, construction and supermarkets.
- 'Eleanor's Hope' Puts Retirement Gap into Races - The Washington-based National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare launched a national initiative Oct. 9 to create grassroots support for ending the gender gap in retirement benefits to decrease the nearly 11 percent poverty rate among senior women, which is 50 percent higher than that of male retirees.Called "Eleanor's Hope"--in honor of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt who championed passage of the Social Security Act in 1935--the initiative proposes sweeping changes to modernize the system to reflect women's contributions as breadwinners as well as family caregivers.
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