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Social Security

5 Things Census Data Tell Us About Elderly Poverty

1. Poverty among the elderly is worse than you may think.

Under the Census Bureau’s updated and more comprehensive supplemental poverty measure, the poverty rate for people 65 and older is over 40 percent higher than under the official measure:  14.4 percent v. 10.0 percent [PDF, Table 2]. Read more »

Happy 80th Birthday, Social Security

It was eighty years ago today that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. But it’s more than its age that makes Social Security an American classic.

  • We built it—and it represents our shared values. Generation after generation, working Americans have contributed to create our Social Security system—to provide income and security for themselves, their families, and their neighbors when they need it.
  • We built it to last. Through wars, recessions, and natural disasters, Social Security has delivered the benefits workers have earned for themselves and their families—on time and in full.
  • We made Social Security better. President Roosevelt himself said that the law he signed “represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but which is by no means complete.” We’ve added protections for spouses, surviving spouses, divorced spouses, and children; for workers with disabilities and their families; extended coverage to more workers; provided automatic cost-of-living adjustments; and eliminated sex discrimination in the award of benefits.

Our One Social Security System is Still Going Strong

The Social Security Trustees released its annual report on Social Security’s finances today.  Because Social Security is especially important to women, this news is of particular interest.  So here are five facts you should know: Read more »

The Phony Crisis in Social Security Disability Insurance — And Other Things Women Should Know About SSDI

Some lawmakers are saying that Social Security is facing a crisis. The Senate Budget Committee recently held a hearing on “The Coming Crisis: Social Security Disability Trust Fund Insolvency;” today, a House subcommittee is holding a hearing on the “looming insolvency of the Disability Insurance program.”

Sounds scary—and that’s the idea. Cuts to Social Security benefits are really unpopular; in fact, a large majority of Americans supports increases in Social Security benefits and increases in taxes to pay for them. But some lawmakers want to cut benefits. Manufacturing a crisis and pitting groups against each other—young against old, retirees against people with disabilities—just might make it possible to push benefit cuts through.

So as the debate heats up over Social Security—and specifically Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)—here are a few things you should know. Read more »

5 Public Programs that Lifted Millions of Women and Children Out of Poverty in 2013

In 2013, Social Security kept 12.0 million women and 1.2 million children out of poverty.

This new statistic can be calculated based on data released today by the Census Bureau. Also part of the release of new data is a report on the supplemental poverty measure (SPM) [PDF] which takes into account the impact of public programs, as well as medical out-of-pocket and other expenses on families’ economic security. (For more about poverty measurement, see our FAQ.)

This past September, the Census Bureau released the official poverty numbers for 2013, which showed that women’s poverty remained historically high, with 18.0 million women (14.5 percent) in poverty. Our report detailed what the numbers looked like and the trends over time. But what we didn’t get to see in that data was how many people’s incomes were pulled above the poverty line by specific public programs, some of which are counted in the official poverty measure and some of which aren’t. Today, we can delve deeper into how many people were lifted out of poverty by these programs and who they were. Read more »

Without the Safety Net, Millions More Would Have Lived in Poverty in 2013

I have good news and bad news. I’m the type who always wants to hear the bad news first, so here it is: newly released Census Bureau data show that more than 45 million Americans lived in poverty last year. Read more »

Whose Poverty Rate Increased Last Year? Older Women's

As we reported, today’s poverty numbers show no improvement in the poverty rate for women overall. Hispanic women saw their poverty rate decline; African

 American women did not.  We haven’t finished crunching all the numbers.  But we know that at least one group of women saw an increase in poverty: women 65 and older.

The poverty rate for women 65 and older increased to 11.6 percent in 2013 from 11.0 in 2012, a statistically significant change. The poverty rate for men 65 and older in 2013 was 6.8 percent, statistically unchanged from 2012.  More than two-thirds (68.1 percent) of the elderly poor are women.

Five Reasons to Celebrate Social Security's 79th Birthday

On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. As he said at the time, he was just laying the “cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete.” Since then, generations of Americans have contributed to, strengthened, and improved our Social Security system—and for generations, it has protected workers and their families against the loss of income due to retirement, disability, or death. Through wars and recessions, Social Security insurance payments have been made on time and in full; last month, over 58 million Americans of all ages relied on Social Security.

Each of those 58 million people has a story to tell about what Social Security means to them and their families—but 58 million is too many reasons to list. So here are five reasons to celebrate today: Read more »

The President’s To Do List

I believe that To Do lists are an art form. There’s nothing more beautiful than a list of things you need to get done with every single item crossed off of it. Crossing off an action item gives me such a sense of accomplishment that I usually put things I’ve already done on the list, just to cross them off.

In a major speech yesterday about economic mobility, President Obama shared one of his To Do lists with us. The items on this list are much more important than the ones on my usual lists. These items are the legislative and administrative priorities that will help fix the growing problem of income inequality in the United States.

Before sharing his “roadmap” with us, the President started with a reality check. He was blunt about the fact that our economy has become profoundly unequal and families have become more insecure. He drove home the point that we are living in a country that once promised success for those who worked hard, but is now faced with rapidly rising inequality and decreasing upward mobility in a way that “challenges the essence of who we are as a people.” Each fall NWLC analyzes the poverty data put out by the Census bureau, and those sobering statistics illustrate exactly what the President is talking about. I couldn’t agree more with the President when he said that these trends are bad for families, bad for the economy, bad for social cohesion, and bad for democracy. Read more »

Poverty Among Seniors Is Far Worse than First Appears

A disturbing finding from today’s Census Bureau report on poverty using the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM):  the rates of poverty and extreme poverty among seniors are dramatically higher than under the official poverty measure. Specifically:

  • The poverty rate for people 65 and older under the SPM was over 60 percent higher under the SPM than under the official measure: 14.8 percent of seniors were considered poor under the SPM in 2012, compared to 9.1 percent under the official measure.
  • The extreme poverty rate (income less than 50 percent of the poverty threshold) for people 65 and older was nearly 75 percent higher under the SPM than under the official poverty measure (4.7 percent under the SPM v. 2.7 percent for the official measure).

In contrast, the rates of poverty and extreme poverty among children under 18 were lower under the SPM than under the official poverty measure:

  •  The poverty rate for children under 18 was 18 percent under the supplemental measure, compared to 22.3 percent under the official measure.
  • The extreme poverty rate for children dropped by more than half, to 4.7 percent under the SPM compared to 10.3 percent under the official measure.
Read more »