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Poverty and Income Assistance

Monday, July 11, 2011

How Would Shifting to a Chained CPI Affect Elderly and Disabled Americans and the Federal Budget?

Virginia P. Reno, National Academy of Social Insurance

Shifting to a new CPI to lower future Social Security benefits is part of current debt ceiling negotiations. Some call for using the new consumer price index to make cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) in Social Security and other federal benefits and to adjust brackets in the federal income tax code. Proponents of the new index – the chained CPI-U – describe it as a technical correction that would make the benefit adjustments more accurately reflect the cost of living experienced by average consumers. In fact, the chained CPI-U falls short of reflecting the living costs of the elderly and disabled because it does not take account of their higher out-of-pocket spending for health care. NASI has two fact sheets on this topic.

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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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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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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Longevity Insurance: Strengthening Social Security for People Age 82 and Older

John A. Turner
Director, Pension Policy Center

People in their 80's with low Social Security benefits are economically vulnerable. Few are able to compensate for a loss of non-Social Security income through work. People in this age group may not have sufficient resources to enjoy the last years of their lives with dignity.

Policymakers should add longevity insurance that targets beneficiaries age 82 or older with low Social Security benefits and long work histories to our current Social Security program. Age 82 is approximately the average life expectancy at age 65. Elderly poverty is high among this age group—a third higher than for people age 65-69. People in this age group are at risk of having fallen into poverty even though they had not been poor earlier in life. They have greater difficulty leaving poverty than people at younger ages. Strengthening Social Security for this group would provide cost effective social insurance.

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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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