In the United States, poverty rates for seniors increase at older ages. The rates are higher for persons age 75 and older than for persons age 65 to 74. Poverty rates increase at older ages because relatively more people fall into poverty as they age than exit poverty due to death. Persons who live longer may fall into poverty because of various life events -- their spouse dies, they have higher medical or long-term care expenses than expected, or their investment returns are worse than projected. As Americans live longer, they face an increased risk of outliving their savings.
Sunday, August 14 is the 81st anniversary of our Social Security system. While few of us were alive to celebrate the system’s first anniversary in 1936, even fewer have living memories of the social problems that gave rise to it. At the time, half of all seniors were living in poverty, individual retirement savings plans like 401(k)s were 40 years away, and depression-era workers were having a hard enough time providing for themselves and their children, let alone supporting their parents and grandparents. What are we to make today of a program that was created in an almost unrecognizable industrial economy?
Thoughtful commentary on how we got from there to here
In a recent issue of the Boston Review, Elizabeth Anderson, Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, wrote a provocative analysis ("Common Property: How Social Insurance Became Confused with Socialism", 7-25-16) of the origins and evolution of social insurance worldwide and in the United States. Her article includes key points that are critical to an understanding of the positioning of social insurance in our economic and political system, and in our culture. She poses a fundamental question: Why does the U.S. lack a comprehensive, universal social insurance system?
As part of the Academy’s continued focus on income and wealth inequality, expert panelists convened at the National Press Club on June 21st for Advancing Equity and Inclusion through Social Insurance, three discussions that explored how public policies can bolster American family stability in an evolving economy. Recognizing how economic opportunity and mobility are affected by entrepreneurship, paid time away from work for caregivers, and the entrenched wealth divide between whites and people of color, panelists affirmed that social insurance programs provide a critical safety net for risk-taking, retirement planning, and family caregiving.
Income, Health, and Wealth Inequality Emerge as Strategic Focus of Academy Following January Policy Research Conference
A blizzard dropping nearly 28 inches of snow did not stop hundreds of social insurance experts from participating in the Academy’s 28th annual policy research conference last week, Disparate Income, Wealth, and Opportunity: Implications for Social Insurance. Co-chaired by Kilolo Kijakazi of the Urban Institute, Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and David Colby, the two-day conference – built upon two Fall convenings on the same topic – ushered in the Academy’s new strategic focus on income and wealth inequality. Participants, including new and veteran Academy members, came together to share views from both sides of the aisle on income, wealth, gender, and racial/ethnic disparities and how social insurance and other public policies can play a role in mitigating them in fiscally sustainable ways.
As we celebrate the 80th anniversary of Social Security, it is time to recall its contribution to the economic security of America’s working families, and to look toward its future.
Remarkably, for 80 years, through numerous wars and recessions, Social Security has never missed a payment, and has never contributed a penny to the federal debt. Self-financed through contributions by workers and their employers – augmented since 1983 by taxes on benefits – with its annual surpluses invested in U.S. Treasury Bonds, Social Security is walled off from the tumult of both the stock market and annual appropriations battles. While the rest of the government can – and does – accumulate debt, Social Security must, by law, live within its means.
The National Academy of Social Insurance is participating in National Retirement Planning Week— April 13 to 17 — as a member of the National Retirement Planning Coalition, a group of prominent education, consumer advocacy and financial services organizations.
The coalition, led by the Insured Retirement Institute, is committed to making public education on retirement planning a national priority. A goal of National Retirement Planning Week is to show that it can be possible to “Retire On Your Terms” if comprehensive retirement plans are properly developed and managed.
As a member of the coalition, the Academy emphasizes the importance of building a Social Security retirement strategy into a holistic retirement financial plan.
The National Academy of Social Insurance joins nearly 1,700 organizations nationwide during America Saves Week, by highlighting its public education campaign to help Americans boost their financial security in retirement
Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) is much in the news these days. It can be hard to separate fact from fiction. Here are some key points to keep in mind.
DI provides essential wage-replacement income to workers who have lost their capacity to earn a living due to the onset of a severe, long-term disability. The DI definition of disability is very strict: a medical condition that prevents an individual from performing basic work activities for at least 12 months or that ends in death.
Although benefits are modest ($1,145 a month on average), more than half of disabled worker beneficiaries rely on these benefits for 75% or more of their total income.