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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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Monday, April 6, 2009

Increasing Social Security Benefits for Family Elder Caregivers

Shelley White-Means
Professor of Health Economics, University of Tennessee Health Science Center

Rose Rubin
Professor, Department of Economics, University of Memphis

Informal care provided by family members improves quality of life for frail elders, allows them to remain in the community instead of in nursing homes, and saves Medicaid dollars. Providing the care also imposes opportunity costs on caregivers that weaken their own retirement security. Retirement Security for Family Elder Care Givers with Labor Force Employment proposes to provide up to four years of Social Security credit to individuals who provide care to elders. The elders must be certified to need levels of care that would qualify for Medicaid coverage. The value of the credit would be the caregiver’s average wage in the three years before care giving interrupted earnings. The authors suggest the credit could be financed based on the reduction in public spending for nursing home care.

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Posted on April 6, 2009  |  Write the first comment
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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 31, 2009

Increasing the Social Security Special Minimum Benefit and Updating SSI

Laura Sullivan
Research Assistant, Institute on Assets and Social Policy, Brandeis University

Tatjana Meschede
Research Director, Institute on Assets and Social Policy, Brandeis University

Thomas M. Shapiro
Director, Institute on Assets and Social Policy, Brandeis University

A special minimum benefit was added to the Social Security program in 1974, but few receive it today because it does not keep up with wage growth. Enhancing Social Security for Low-Income Workers: Coordinating an Enhanced Minimum Benefit with Social Safety Net Provisions for Seniors examines ways to update the special minimum benefit so that individuals with 30 years of work covered by Social Security would receive benefits that meet the updated poverty measure of the National Academy of Sciences, which is about 125 percent of the current official poverty threshold. It also proposes to update SSI to reflect inflation since the program began – that is, increase the asset limit for individuals from $2,000 to $6,700 and increase the general income exclusion from $20 to $89.

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Posted on March 31, 2009  |  1 comment  |  Add your comment
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Friday, March 27, 2009

A Social Security Supplement for Low-Income Working Parents

Pamela Herd
Assistant Professor of Public Affairs and Sociology, La Follette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin

Social Security provides benefits for spouses and widowed spouses, but does not provide credit for raising children. A growing portion of retiring women will not qualify for spousal benefits because they are divorced (with less than 10 years of marriage) or never married, yet will have earnings records that are limited because of time spent caring for their children. Crediting Care in Social Security: A Proposal for an Income-Tested Care Supplement proposes to supplement Social Security benefits for retirees who have raised one or more children. The supplement would be an additional 75 percent of the worker’s benefit (80 percent if two or more children were raised) but would be capped to not push the retiree’s household income above 125 percent of the poverty threshold.

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Posted on March 27, 2009  |  Write the first comment
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