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Social Security

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Disability Insurance: Clarifying the Choices

William J. Arnone, Board Chair, National Academy of Social Insurance

G. Lawrence Atkins, President, National Academy of Social Insurance

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 Basics
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.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Call for Proposals to Improve the Social Security Disability Insurance Program

Marc Goldwein, Committee for a Responsible Budget

My colleagues and I at the CRFB have been working on an initiative, led by former Congressmen Earl Pomeroy and Jim McCrery, to identify and put forward meaningful improvements that could be made to the SSDI program. The McCrery-Pomeroy SSDI Solutions Initiative hopes to generate the types of reforms that could accompany reallocation, interfund borrowing, or (preferably) a comprehensive Social Security reform package.

As part of the initiative, we have spoken with program experts, advocates, and practitioners of all different perspectives and ideologies. These discussions confirmed what we already knew to be the case: the SSDI program provides a vital support structure for many workers with disabilities and their families. But they also identified several areas where the program and the government could be doing better.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bring Back Social Security Replacement Rates!

Alicia H. Munnell, Center for Retirement Research, Boston College

Each year, the Social Security actuaries project the system’s financial outlook over the next 75 years, and these projections are published in the annual Trustees Report.  Since 1989, these Reports have included data on future benefits as a percent of pre-retirement earnings – commonly called replacement rates – for workers at different places on the income scale.  That is, the Reports did include these data until this year, when the trustees decided to delete them.

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Posted on September 2, 2014  |  1 comment  |  Add your comment
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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fixing Social Security

Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Boston University

Social Security is America's most cherished public policy program and one of the most successful. Today, and for several decades before, Social Security accounts for 55% of the annual income of U.S. households headed by adults ages 65 and older. The improved financial strength of our seniors has helped preserve a viable standard of living for many of them. In addition, it has reduced the financial and emotional stress of families trying to support multiple generations.

But past success is a poor yardstick for measuring the current viability of a social insurance program. Moreover, failure to identify current issues with Social Security and offer solutions can leave Congress under-informed and under pressure to produce a “quick fix.” No good can come of that.

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Posted on May 20, 2014  |  1 comment  |  Add your comment
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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Social Policy Call to Arms at NASI's Conference

Andrea Louise Campbell, 2014 Conference Co-Chair, MIT

As a co-chair of this year’s Academy policy research conference, I was gratified by the excellent turnout, the fascinating presentations, and the thoughtful discussions. I was most inspired, however, by three speakers, who, through their very different personal styles, issued a social- policy call to arms.

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