Social Security Isn’t in “Crisis” – But, Older Women Are.



By Stacy Sanders, the Director of the Elder Economic Security Initiative, WOW

This week, with health care reform passed, the New York Times speculated that Social Security, “the other big entitlement program,” would be the next big program to “tackle,” specifically within the context of reducing the nation’s debt. Reports followed that suggest the program is in crisis, despite the fact that predictions show Social Security can pay benefits in full until 2037.

With thirty years to attend to the program’s ability to pay benefits, there’s little evidence to suggest that Social Security is in trouble. On the contrary, there is real data that shows its beneficiaries, particularly older women, are in crisis. Though never intended to be the only source of income in retirement, many find themselves solely reliant upon Social Security as they age. In fact, Social Security provides more than 90 percent of income to three out of ten retired elders. And, due to time spent out of the workforce for caregiving and lower lifetime wages, women are even more dependent on Social Security.

Last year, the average annual Social Security payment was only $11,316 for an older woman. According to the Elder Economic Security Standardâ„¢ Index (Elder Index), a new measure of what it costs to age in place, a single elder who rents needs $20,248 to make ends meet, almost twice the average annual Social Security payment for women. Developed by Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW) and the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston, the Elder Index is a bare-bones measure of basic needs in retirement.

The data shows that, for older women, Social Security provides a life line. It offers a secure, reliable and necessary income base in retirement. But, those who rely only on Social Security must make difficult sacrifices – such as choosing between groceries and essential medications or going without heat.

As Congress and the Administration take up the nation’s deficit, they ought to consider the real, day-to-day crisis of our nation’s older women. Doing so means making responsible choices to safeguard and strengthen Social Security benefits while addressing its long-term stability.

Cross posted from the National Elder Economic Security Initiative

2 comments

    • Xanthe on March 28, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Our public debt is about 53% of the GDP – France – 80%; Canada 72%, UK 69%, India 60% – China 18%.  Unfortunately, the drumbeat is steady on and loud – if we lose control of the pr – we could be  looking at some possibilities that would cut Medicare/SS or put it in the hands of corporations.

    Also note – that many of us older women had if not healthy, passable portfolios, 401 ks, etc.  I lost  more than half of mine so that the elites could have more toys.

    Many of us own our homes (but continue to pay high RE taxes).  If we are forced to sell our homes – watch for the rapacious RE set to buy on the cheap.  I see it coming.

    As I mentioned before – I will be watching all on the Debt Commissioners – look at the propagandist, Ann Fudge,for sure. Advertising and on  several corporate boards – they are all related in that respect.   I lost respect for Durbin, the only passable member during the insurance bailout bill.

    We  have to take control of the advertising/sale of this theme.   If I hear these  wealthy commentators,  e.g., Chris Matthews – carry on about how they  are worried for their children’s future – someone has to holdme back, please.

    Obama is dangerous here — he neither took care of his mother or grandmother, so he doesn’t have the heart here.

  1. yet another article talking about “grabbing” our Social Security.  No, Social Security isn’t in a financial crisis, as is shouted over and over, but it is in a perilous position with GREED on the verge of getting its hands on it and grabbing it up.

    Alan Greenspan and the New York Times Are Gunning for Your Social Security

    The battle for Social Security is on — and the Times is fighting for the bad guys.

    March 25, 2010

    With health care reform finally signed into law, a new policy battle over Social Security is quietly but unquestionably building momentum.  Make no mistake — Wall Street is now doing its best to gut Social Security, and as a front-page article in yesterday’s New York Times makes clear, the media is not ready to challenge them on it. . . . . .

    If that $2.5 trillion ever runs out — which it won’t, because Social Security’s revenues will increase in a few years as the economy recovers — policymakers would still actually have plenty of options available for boosting the program. But according to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, there’s only one truly viable course of action — draconian benefit cuts for seniors. Here’s the Maestro, from Walsh’s article:

    When the level of the trust fund gets to zero, you have to cut benefits . . . . Because of the size of the contraction in economic activity, unless we get an immediate and sharp recovery, the revenues of the trust fund will be tracking lower for a number of years.

    . . . .

    That’s a perspective shared by Wall Street billionaires like Peter Peterson, who has pledged a massive fortune to spreading the message: Save the bankers and brokers first — everyone else, including seniors, is expendable. Peterson and Greenspan have allies in the newspaper business and on cable television that are ready and willing to place this agenda at the forefront of the public debate. The Washington Post now even publishes Social Security hit pieces posing as news articles that are funded by Peterson, parading under the banner of the Fiscal Times. As we move into the midterm elections, and Republicans raise the specter of budget deficits and national debt that have increased thanks to their own predatory economic policies, we can expect more of this Social Security fear-mongering. But we shouldn’t take the bait. There is no Social Security crisis. (emphasis mine)

    They’ve got the momentum going on this effort to gut our Social Security and I don’t think we’ll see any let up on it.  

    Many senior people survive by their Social Security and Medicare provisions.  Maybe, we should start screaming NOW.  “Leave our Social Security and Medicare alone — it’s not your [the government’s] monies.”

     

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