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: December 18, 2014
- 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.
- Retirement's changing expectations - Studies show that what people expect regarding retirement doesn't often match what really happens. To that point, the Employee Benefit Research Institute has just issued a report about the gap between expected and actual retirement. Clearly, many workers are overly optimistic about how long they will be able to keep working compared to the reality reported by those who have already retired, notes Sudipto Banerjee, EBRI research associate and author of the report.
- Social Security advocates fear more cuts in staff and service - From fiscal year 2011 through 2013, the Social Security Administration received $2.7 billion less than Obama requested, followed by a small increase in 2014, according to a Senate Special Committee on Aging report. "The three previous years of low funding, combined with a wave of retirements and a hiring freeze that has been in place since 2010, led to a reduction in staffing throughout SSA's operations," the report said.
- Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation - As the population ages and people live longer in bad shape, the number of older Americans who fall and suffer serious, even fatal, injuries is soaring. So the retirement communities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes where millions of Americans live are trying to balance safety and their residents' desire to live as they choose.
- 10 Worst States in America for Retirement Living - Location can play a key role in your retirement planning, as some states are simply better suited to offer desirable benefits to retirees. No. 8. (tie) New York with Maryland & Georgia - New York along with two other states tied for eighth place. While some might assume New York suffers from high crime rates, the state actually has the lowest rate of property crime per capita in the nation. Nonetheless, the climate ranks poorly, and economic factors such as high cost of living and high property taxes make it less than ideal for retirement.
- Is Retirement Just a Pipe Dream for the Middle Class? -A new report finds that an alarming amount of Americans are not placing any money aside for their so-called golden years, and the situation actually worsens as they near retirement age.
Retirement funds are in short supply. According to the fifth annual Wells Fargo Middle-Class Retirement study, 34% of middle-class Americans are not currently contributing anything to a 401(k), individual retirement account (IRA), or other retirement savings vehicle. Furthermore, 31% of all respondents say they will not have enough money to "survive" on in retirement, and 19% have zero retirement savings.
- '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.
- The Pay Gap Haunts Women Into Old Age - American women face a huge retirement savings gap compared to men, and taking time off work to care for an elderly family member or a young child is one reason for that. Women make up about two-thirds of unpaid family caregivers, and they are more likely to take lower paying jobs, work part-time, or not work at all as a result. That will earn them lower Social Security benefits since those benefits are tied to how much a person earns.
- Nearly half of Americans haven't planned how much they need to retire - In taking the pulse of how people feel about retirement, a Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of investors found that nearly half fear they will outlive their savings.
- Your partner's plan for retirement should agree with yours
- The anti-retirement plan: Working 9-to-5 past 65 - As of September, 60 percent of workers age 65 and older had full-time jobs, up from about 55 percent in September of 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over that time, the share of workers with part-time jobs fell to 40 percent from about 45 percent.
- Delaying taking Social Security pays off - If you start collecting at the early-retirement age of 62, you'll get 25 percent less each month than your "full retirement" benefit. If you postpone till 70, you'll get 32 percent more. If you can make it till 70, you'll get a check that's 76 percent higher than at 62.
- 80% of Hospitals in NY Face Medicare Reimbursement Penalties - The federal government wants to reduce the number of avoidable hospital readmissions. This is the third year Medicare will cut reimbursements to hospitals based on the number of patients who have to check back in with complications from lung ailments, heart failure, heart attack, pneumonia, or after a hip or knee replacement.
- HREF="http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20141001/NATIONAL/141009963">Norway, Sweden rank highest in well-being for senior citizens in study - A global index reflecting economic security, health and other factors - and not deducting for cold winters - ranks Norway and Sweden with the highest level of well-being for older people. Of the 96 nations in the index, Afghanistan ranked last. The United States was eighth.
- How the pay gap leads to the retirement savings gap - The pay difference has an impact beyond the workplace. Financial advisers and analysts say the gap is one of the main reasons women are drastically behind men when it comes to retirement savings. A survey conducted earlier this year by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that women were more likely to say their top financial priorities were paying off debt and covering basic living expenses. More men said their top financial concern was paying for retirement.
- 9 reasons seniors could force a student loan debt solution - Seniors vote, and most successful politicians cater to seniors. So when an issue like the college student loan debt crisis is shown to hurt retirees, is action sure to follow? While the $1 trillion debt figure is cited repeatedly by media reports on the student loan debt crisis, it may not be the size of the problem that triggers substantial reform by the U.S. Department of Education or Congress. If the catalyst for changes comes instead from a politically powerful group, look to the seniors to exercise their clout.
- Women Are Providing Twice As Much Caregiving As Men - The final count revealed that daughters average 12.3 hours of care per month, while sons provide only 5.3. Even after adjusting for confounding factors (like a sibling's geographical distance from a parent), daughters still gave 5.4 more hours than their male counterparts.
- This Is What an Aging Population Looks Like - "Procter & Gamble Co. is getting back into a business it exited more than a decade ago-making products for adults suffering from incontinence-as it takes aim at the growing ranks of aging Americans. Over 3 million Americans are now turning 65 each year, according to the Pew Research Center."
- Paying off today's debts boosts your retirement tomorrow - Older Americans are still carrying mortgages, car loans and credit card debt at a time when they should be rid of these obligations. About 29 percent have mortgages and 27 percent carry credit card debt, the GAO reported. For those 65 and older, the overall debt ratio - total debt as a percentage of household assets - doubled from 1998 to 2010, rising to 13 percent from 6.4 percent.
- Senior (Citizen) Student Debt Rising - Older Americans are increasingly burdened by federal student loans -- and they struggle to repay the debt at much higher rates than their younger counterparts, a new government report finds.
- Almost Every Slice of American Society Wants To Strengthen Social Security Except Washington Insiders - Most Americans want better benefits, and they agree on how to pay for them. As strengthening Social Security becomes a higher profile issue in a handful of toss-up U.S. Senate races, a new poll of likely 2014 voters in those states and nationwide finds overwhelming support to boost benefits by taxing all Americans equally.
- Abuse of Older Women Overlooked and Underreported - A veteran women's rights activist, Patricia Brownell was still taken aback by the prevalence of abuse against older women she discovered during dozens of conversations she and her colleagues had with victims.They found that for every one official report of abuse made by agencies in New York State, there are 23 self-reports, with the abusers ranging from husbands, sons, daughters and other relatives to complete strangers.
- Retirement mistakes people make at every age - Whether you're 25 or 65, there's always something getting in the way of your long-term plan. People stumble with their retirement savings at all stages of life as competing interests - student loans, the cost of having children, health emergencies and home obligations - manage to get in the way. But the cost of putting off saving can be dire: Roughly 40 percent of baby boomers and Generation Xers risk running out of money in retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
- Social Security marks 79th birthday with declining service - Social Security has been around long enough to collect old age benefits. It marked "79 years of public service" Thursday. A new audit from the agency's inspector general's office documents deteriorating service resulting from cuts in staffing and office hours to a government program that all Americans eventually will use, assuming we live long enough.
- Student Debt Threatens the Safety Net for Elderly Americans - There is a growing number of Americans aged 50 and older who haven't finished paying their student loans. Student debt is growing faster for seniors than for any other age group, according to the latest data gathered by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Lingering student loan debt is part of a broader and, many elder-care lawyers say, devastating accumulation of debt among older Americans.
- Malnutrition Threatens Many U.S. Seniors Seen at ERs - More than half of American seniors seen at emergency departments are either malnourished or at risk for malnutrition, a new study reveals. Among ER patients aged 65 and older, 16 percent were malnourished and 60 percent were either malnourished or at risk for malnutrition. Those most likely to be malnourished included seniors who: had depression (52 percent); lived in assisted-living facilities (50 percent); had difficulty eating or swallowing due to problems such as denture troubles or pain (38 percent); had difficulty buying groceries (33 percent).
- For Aging Inmates, Care Outside Prison Walls - Of the 2.3 million adults in state and federal prisons, about 246,000 are 50 or older, according to the National Institute of Corrections. The U.S. currently spends more than $16 billion annually caring for these aging inmates, and their numbers are projected to grow dramatically in the next 15 years.
- Almost 20 percent of people near retirement age have no retirement savings - A survey released Thursday offered a stark reminder that many Americans are woefully under prepared for retirement.
- Not so golden: Wealth gap lasting into retirement - With traditional pensions becoming rarer in the private sector, and lower-paid workers less likely to have access to an employer-provided retirement plan, there is a growing gulf in the retirement savings of the wealthy and people with lower incomes. That, experts say, could exacerbate an already widening wealth gap across America, as more than 70 million Baby Boomers head into retirement - many of them with skimpy reserves.
- Another jarring pay-gap reality: Women get 34 percent less from Social Security than men - Retirement-related numbers from the U.S. Social Security Administration:
- 6.6: The percentage of men ages 65 and older who live in poverty.
- 11: The percentage of women ages 65 and older who live in poverty.
- 12,250: The average dollar amount that women ages 65 and older get from Social Security annually.
- 16,396: The average dollar amount that men ages 65 and older get from Social Security annually.
- Equal Pay for Women Would Mean a More Secure Retirement for All - The link is simple and clear: Women earn less than men in the workplace - almost $450 billion less in total each year nationwide - resulting in lower Social Security payments after retirement. The pay discrimination against women hurts their current well-being and future security
- Delaying Social Security draw could increase lifetime income for St. Lawrence County’s 14,720 residents age 55 to 64 - Payments increase by 5 to 7 percent for each year of delay between ages 62 and 66, and by 8 percent for each year of delay between ages 66 and 70. The increases stop at age 70.
- Study: Grandparents Save for College for Grandchildren - More than half (53 percent) of grandparents are saving for their grandchildren's college costs, or plan to start saving, according to research released Thursday by Fidelity. And 90 percent reported that, if asked, they would be likely to make a financial contribution to their grandchildren's college costs. A majority of grandparents are also talking to both their children and grandchildren about college savings. The national survey was conducted of adults who are at least 45 years old and who have at least one grandchild younger than 18.
- The Elderly as a Source of Profit - An issue that many have had the misfortune to encounter, but has yet to be recognized as a broader societal issue, is how the medical-industrial complex takes advantage of the elderly.
- Graying of Adirondacks presents future challenges - The Adirondacks are heading toward a future of fewer full-time residents, with a mix tilting each year toward more older people and retirees, and fewer school-aged kids and young families, according to a report issued by the Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project. The 12-county Adirondack Park peaked with about 132,000 residents at the beginning of this century, slipped to about 130,000 people by 2010, and by the end of this year will have about 128,000 residents. By 2030, if trends continue, the population will have slipped to about 115,000, back to what it was in the early 1970s, said Brad Dake, one of the report's authors. By 2030, more than a third of the Park residents will be 60 or older.
- Rethinking the Traditional Retirement Community - Instead of focusing on traditional Sun Belt retirement communities, builders are seeking to lure older people who want to remain active or continue to work. Pleasing retirement-age customers is crucial for developers. At a time when many housing markets remain stagnant, projects catering to older people rank as one of the hottest fields. In 2013, there were 21,000 starts of age-restricted homes, up from 13,000 in 2012, according to the National Association of Home Builders. "Today people do not want a geezer ghetto," said Margaret Wylde, president of ProMatura Group, a market research firm in Oxford, Miss., that specializes in older consumers. "Buyers want an active environment with walking trails and easy access to amenities outside the community."
- Social Security Threatens to Close All Field Offices - Bureaucrats are mulling closure of most of the Social Security Administration's more than 1,000 community field offices in the United States, where 43 million people sought services last year, even as the number of visitors continues to grow.
- Women are still way behind men when it comes to retirement savings - Women are just as likely to put away some money for retirement as men - but they are still way behind their male counterparts in total retirement savings, a new study shows. Men had an average of $139,467 in their individual retirement accounts as of 2012, compared with the average of $81,700 that women had stashed in their IRAs, according to a report released Wednesday by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a Washington-based research institute that focuses on health, savings and retirement issues. But the most likely factor keeping women from saving as robustly as men is probably not that surprising: Women still make less, on average, when compared with men. Women earned roughly 77 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2012, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau. That was unchanged from the year before and not much higher than the 61 cents women made for every dollar earned by men in 1960.
- Why many retired women live in poverty - Gender inequality doesn't end at the workplace. For many women, the gender gap haunts them well into their retirement years, when far more women find themselves living in poverty. In fact, women are almost twice as likely as men to live below the poverty line during retirement, with single and minority women struggling the most. On average, women still receive Social Security benefits that are thousands of dollars less annually than benefits that men receive, according to the Social Security Administration.
- Graying of America Is Speeding, Report Says - The number of Americans 65 and older is expected to nearly double by the middle of the century when they will make up more than a fifth of the nation's population, according to a Census Bureau report released Tuesday. By 2050, 83.7 million Americans will be 65 or older, compared with 43.1 million in 2012, the report said. Fewer than 10 percent were older than 65 in 1970.
- Boomers working to stay employed during golden years - More baby boomers are working harder to keep their skills up to date, searching for future job opportunities and focusing on their health to make sure than can remain working after they turn 65. According to a report by the USA Today, 65 percent of baby boomers plan to work passed 65 or not retire at all due to concerns about health care and their income. The report, which cites findings from a Harris Poll says that baby boomers are taking steps to make sure they can work longer. Forty-one percent of those polled said they are keeping their skills current and 16 percent said they are networking to meet people and line up future opportunities.
- In the News: Eldercare: The Forgotten Feminist Issue - As writer Jane Glenn Haas pointed out, eldercare isn't sexy enough to be a feminist issue. It lacks the naughty allure of reproductive rights, the seductive appeal of body image. It doesn't even have a sassy Lean In-like catchphrase. But it should be a feminist issue, since the numbers show that women are most likely to shoulder the responsibility of looking after parents in their twilight years, and the most likely to live well into those twilight years. A lot of them have missed out on career and educational opportunities. A lot of them-like my mother and her friends-are doing this by the skin of their teeth, with scant to nonexistent resources. A lot of them will outlive their spouses (if they have them), exhaust their pensions (if they have them), and die alone.
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