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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Social Security and Budget Deficits: Don’t Lose Sight of the Facts

Janice Gregory
President, National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI)

With the release of the new Social Security Trustees annual report, we can expect to hear sharp debates on Social Security’s financial picture. We must ensure these discussions do not lose sight of some important facts. Despite concerns about Social Security’s long-term stability, the truth is that the program is in good financial shape and, with some sensible improvements, will continue to provide security to millions of American’s for generations to come

As in previous recessions, Social Security income and outgo today are performing as they were designed, as a counter-cyclical insurance program. That is, with more people out of work, contributions from wages decrease and more program participants retire sooner than they had planned. These facts are not a cause for alarm. Rather, they demonstrate the insurance function of Social Security and how critical it is to the economic security of American workers and their families.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easing the Impact of Increasing the Retirement Age: Occupational Disability

Eric Klieber
Director, Retirement Actuary, Buck Consultants

Legislation in 1983 increased from 65 to 67 the age at which Social Security pays full retirement benefits. The change lowers retirement benefits at each age they are claimed. Disabled-worker benefits remain unreduced, but are not available to individuals who fail to meet a strict test – “inability to engage in any gainful activity” – yet are unable to continue in their jobs. Strengthening Social Security for Workers in Physically Demanding Occupations proposes a benefit for such individuals based on an occupational disability test – “inability to perform the essential duties of one’s current occupation.” Making such an occupational disability benefit available at age 62 could protect recipients from retired-worker benefit reductions (or part of such reductions) due to increasing the full benefit age.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Helping Homeless Individuals with Serious Mental Illness Get Disability Benefits

Yvonne Perret
Executive Director, Advocacy and Training Center

Deborah Dennis
Vice President, Policy Research Associates, Inc

Margaret Lassiter
Senior Project Associate, Policy Research Associates, Inc

Social Security and SSI disability benefits are often the main sources of stable income for people who have serious mental illness. Individuals who are homeless face particular barriers in navigating the application process. They typically lack a mailing address, transportation, and a treatment history from accepted medical sources (physicians or licensed psychologists).

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Another Lesson from Today’s Financial Meltdown

Henry J. Aaron, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, The Brookings Institute

In the midst of the financial chaos enveloping Wall Street and threatening the economy of the nation and world, it is hard to think of much else. But it is worth a moment to recall the quite serious debate about partly privatizing Social Security that absorbed national attention just three years ago.

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Monday, August 8, 2005

Happy 70th Birthday to the Social Security program, and many happy returns!

Wilhelmina Leigh, Senior Research Associate, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

As I wish happy birthday to the Social Security program, I think of my maternal grandmother who died in 1993 at the age of 101. Grannie received an annual letter from the Social Security Administration to verify her continued eligibility for monthly checks. My mother and I chuckled as we proudly put the forms into the return mail on her behalf; Grannie puts the lie to the proposition that African Americans don't benefit from Social Security because of their shorter life spans.

My maternal grandmother was widowed in 1936, the year after Social Security's birth. After the death of her husband, grannie did what she had to do to support her three children: domestic work and taking in both laundry and borders. Although her hard work was never acknowledged by coverage under the Social Security program, her late husband's work was, and she was able to receive a modest benefit check based on his year of covered employment.

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