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Social Security

Monday, April 20, 2009

Increasing Social Security Benefits for Low-Wage Single Retirees

Patricia E. Dilley
Professor of Law, University of Florida Levin College of Law

Single retirees (that is, never married, divorced or widowed) are at high risk of being poor in old age. The decline in private pensions, rising out-of-pocket health costs, and declining housing values can be expected to make the already precarious financial situation of unmarried retirees even worse. Restoring Old Age Income Security to Low-Wage Single Workers proposes a change to the basic Social Security retired-worker benefit formula that would increase benefits for single retirees with at least 30 years of covered employment and low lifetime earnings. A second change would target single beneficiaries over age 85. Those who had at least 30 years of covered work, and received relatively low benefits (less than 75 percent of the average benefit), would receive a 10 percent benefit increase at age 85.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

A New Social Security Minimum Benefit For Low Lifetime Earners

Melissa Favreault
Senior Research Associate, The Urban Institute

Despite a lifetime of hard work, many workers end up poor or near poor in retirement. A New Minimum Benefit for Low Lifetime Earners examines a new minimum benefit that targets workers with long careers and low lifetime earnings, along with a modest credit that compensates for up to three years of low (or no) earnings due to care giving, unemployment, or poor health. The benefit at the full retirement age would pay 60 percent of the poverty threshold for a worker with 20 years of Social Security covered work and increase to 110 percent of the poverty threshold for a worker with 40 years of work. Caregiver credits would be available only in years when a child is under age 4 and only to one parent. The credit would be 60 percent of the average wage in the first such year, 50 percent in the second year and 40 percent in the third year.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Improving Benefits for Widowed Spouses of Low-Earning Couples

Joan Entmacher
Vice President for Family Economic Security, National Women’s Law Center

Social Security is especially important to older women, particularly widows. Most poor elderly women are widows. Social Security survivor benefits help to bridge the transition to widowhood, but the benefits are less adequate when both the husband and wife had worked at low pay. Strengthening Social Security Benefits for Widow(er) s: The 75 Percent Combined Worker Benefit Alternative proposes to increase benefits for widowed spouses of low-earning dual-earner couples. The new widowed-spouse benefit would be 75 percent of the combined retired-worker benefits of the husband and the wife, but would be capped to not exceed the benefit for one person who had earned the average wage over a career.
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Posted on April 13, 2009  |  3 comments  |  Add your comment
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Increasing Social Security Benefits at Advanced Ages

John Turner
Director, Pension Policy Center

People who live into their 80s and 90s face a growing risk of becoming poor. They rely more and more on Social Security because their other sources of income decline as they age: private pensions, if received, are eroded by inflation; income from work is very rarely an option; and financial assets may have been spent. Longevity Insurance, Strengthening Social Security at Advanced Ages proposes increasing benefits at age 82 (about the average life expectancy at age 65) for beneficiaries with low Social Security benefits and long work histories. This longevity insurance would improve financial security for individuals who live longer than the average life span.
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Posted on April 10, 2009  |  Write the first comment
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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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Posted on April 8, 2009  |  Write the first comment
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