May 7, 2012

News Release

For too long, the real world challenges facing millions of American retirees have been ignored in favor of a single-minded quest by many in Washington to use Social Security and Medicare benefit cuts to reduce the deficit. However, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation believes our focus should be on passage of initiatives to ensure Social Security benefits are adequate for all Americans, particularly for women. The poverty rate for senior women and widows is 50% higher than other retirees 65 and older, yet even as we celebrate this Mother’s Day, this benefit inequity is largely ignored and millions of American mothers, grandmothers, and widows pay the price.

The NCPSSM Foundation has joined forces with the National Organization for Women Foundation and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research to examine the challenges facing America ‘s elderly women and their families and provide forward-thinking proposals to modernize benefits. The culmination of their research, Breaking the Social Security Glass Ceiling will be presented to Congressional staff and reporters in a Capitol Hill briefing at 9:30am on Friday, May 11th, 2237 Rayburn House Office building. Here are just some of the recommendations in this groundbreaking report:

•  Improving Survivor Benefits . Women living alone often are forced into poverty because of benefit reductions stemming from the death of a spouse. Providing a widow or widower with 75 percent of the couple’s combined benefit treats one-earner and two-earner couples more fairly and reduces the likelihood of leaving the survivor in poverty.

•  Providing Social Security Credits for Caregivers. We recommend imputed earnings for up to five family service years be granted to a worker who leaves or reduces his/her participation in the work force to provide care to children under the age of six or to elderly family members.

•  Equal Benefits for Same-Sex Married Couples and Partners. Gay and lesbian same-sex couples, whether married or not, are denied a host of benefits under state and federal law that are routinely provided to heterosexual married couples. Social Security benefits should not be denied to qualified retirees because of their sexual orientation.

•  Restoring Student Benefits. Social Security pays benefits to children until age 18, or 19 if they are still attending high school, if a working parent has died, become disabled or retired. In the past, those benefits continued until age 22 if the child was a full-time student in college or a vocational school. Congress ended post-secondary students’ benefits in 1981 which has disproportionately hurt children of parents in blue-collar jobs, African Americans, and lower income students.

Briefing participants include: Max Richtman – NCPSSM President/CEO as moderator and speakers Rep. Eleanor Homes Norton (D-DC), Rep. Donna Edwards , (D-MD) (invited) , Dr. Carroll Estes NPCSSM Foundation Board Chair and founding Director of the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California, San Francisco, Terry O’Neill – President, the National Organization for Women Foundation and Dr. Heidi Hartman – President, Institute for Women’s Policy Research .

An embargoed copy of the full report will be released online Thursday, May 10th .

The National Committee, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization acts in the interests of its membership through advocacy, education, services, grassroots efforts and the leadership of the Board of Directors and professional staff. The work of the National Committee is directed toward developing better-informed citizens and voters.

Media Inquiries to:
Pamela Causey 202-216-8378/202-236-2123
Kim Wright 202-216-8414