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Social Security

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Building on Social Security’s Success

Virginia P. Reno
Vice President for Income Security, National Academy of Social Insurance

The United States needs a new conversation about how Social Security is part of the solution to the growing economic risks American workers face. The key question is: How can we build on the strengths of Social Security – its fiscally responsible design, its universality, progressivity, efficiency, and it effectiveness – to meet the needs of working families in the 21st century?

As employers’ shift away from traditional pensions to 401(k) plans, workers shoulder more financial risks. Social Security offers employers what they want – freedom from financial risk and fiduciary burdens, and it provides workers what they need – economic security.

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Posted on March 3, 2009  |  1 comment  |  Add your comment
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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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Monday, December 29, 2008

Social Security and the Vanishing 401(k)

Eric Kingson
Professor of Social Work and Public Administration, Syracuse University

Originally Published 12/28/08, The New York Times Online

The availability, stability and value of traditional defined benefit pensions are diminished. Americans are experiencing dramatic losses in 401(k) and I.R.A. retirement savings accounts. Home equity is shrinking. Employers have been bailing out of retiree health plans. Unemployment is increasing and now, faced with mounting pressures, some employers are reducing contributions to 401(k) plans.

This unfortunate state of affairs serves to remind the nation of the importance of the core mission of Social Security — to provide widespread and basic protection against loss of income due to death, disability or retirement.

Although this comes as a surprise to some, Social Security is fundamentally sound, backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. Projected financing problems, though real, are relatively modest, manageable and many years in the future.

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Posted on December 29, 2008  |  Write the first comment
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Monday, December 1, 2008

Challenges and Opportunities for Retirement Security

Anna M. Rappaport, F.S.A., M.A.A.A.
President, Anna Rappaport Consulting

We are truly at a crossroads with respect to retirement security in America. We have an opportunity to improve and build on what we have in the longer run, but only if we effectively address some short-term challenges. We need to do several things or we will lose our opportunities:

Find a forum where diverse stakeholders will work together effectively – those who represent the public, labor and business must work together to strengthen the system. Repeated failure to work together has led to regulatory instability and chaos that for decades has been a major contributor to the decline of pensions and loss of retirement security.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Social Security Fix for 2008

Robert M. Ball
Founding Chair of the National Academy of Social Insurance

This op-ed piece is the last op-ed written by NASI founder Robert M. Ball, who died in January 2008. It was originally published on October 29, 2007 in The Washington Post.

In the Oct. 19 editorial " Mr. Giuliani's No-Tax Pledge ," The Post stated: "It's no more responsible for Republicans to rule out tax increases [to strengthen Social Security] than it is for Democrats to insist on no benefit cuts." The Post praised, as a "bipartisan blend," President Ronald Reagan 's acceptance of a 1983 fix that included both.

I take exception. It's the essence of responsibility, in my view, to insist on no benefit cuts. In 1983, I served on the National Commission on Social Security Reform (better known as the Greenspan Commission) and represented House Speaker Tip O'Neill in negotiations with the White House . What was right in 1983 -- a balanced package of benefit cuts and tax increases as part, roughly half, of the final agreement -- would be wrong today.

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Posted on November 19, 2008  |  Write the first comment
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