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How Would Seniors Fare – by Age, Gender, Race and Ethnicity, and Income – Under the Bowles-Simpson Social Security Proposals by 2070?

By: Virginia P. Reno and Elisa A. Walker
Published: September 2011

SUMMARY: Micro-simulation of future benefits shows how recommendations by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of the deficit commission appointed by President Obama, would lower Social Security benefits for almost all (92 percent) of seniors entitled to benefits in 2070. The cuts would affect all age and income groups: 88 percent of young elders (ages 62-69) and 97 percent of the oldest (ages 90 and older) are projected to receive lower benefits, as are 81 percent of seniors in the lowest household income quintile, 93 percent of the middle quintile, and 97 percent of the top quintile. Major benefit reductions – of 20 percent or more below the benefits scheduled in current law – are projected to befall about one in three women and one in two men. Slightly more than one in four black and Hispanic elders would experience cuts of 20 percent or more, as would half of all white elders and nearly half (45 percent) of middle income elders. The simulations show how Social Security proposals that rely mainly on benefit cuts to achieve long-term solvency would weaken retirement income security for the children and grandchildren of today’s retirees across age, gender, income, and racial and ethnic groups.