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Friday, March 6, 2009

Social Security is Shovel-Ready

Robert Hudson
Professor and Chair, Department of Social Welfare Policy, Boston University

There can be no question that the current economic crisis is emerging as the most dire that we have seen since the 1930s. And, in terms of both employment opportunities and retirement savings, it seems certain to hit older Americans as hard as it will everyone else. Looking for any silver lining in this situation, one finally occurs to me. In recent years, pressures on age-related programs have built as "the scope of conflict" around aging policy has expanded, meaning that programs that were once politically insulated are now under scrutiny and attack from those who see entitlement spending for older adults leading us toward fiscal doom.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Bright Light in a Dismal Landscape

Alicia H. Munnell
Peter F. Drucker Professor of Management Sciences and Director of the Center for Retirement Research, Boston College

Original Published 3/25/09, The Boston Globe

President Barack Obama has said that overhauling Social Security and Medicare would be "a central part" of his administration's efforts to contain federal spending. But amid all the economic calamity, the Social Security program is functioning perfectly, meeting the crucial economic needs for millions of Americans. When older workers are losing their jobs and their 401(k) accounts are down about 30 percent, the ability to claim Social Security benefits serves as a backstop against severe economic hardship. Therefore, policymakers should tread carefully.

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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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