It is difficult to overstate the importance to the American people of the Social Security program. For more than 80 years it has been America’s most successful and broadly supported social insurance program, providing economic protection for people of all ages. It speaks to a universal need to address family uncertainties brought on by death, disability and old age.
While Social Security is a program that is vitally important to all Americans, it is especially important to the financial security of women. There are a number of reasons why this is so. First of all, women live longer than men. On average, women today who reach age 65 outlive men by four years. These additional years of longevity increase the risk that women may outlive their savings or that their pensions may lose their purchasing power.
Social Security provides many elderly African Americans with their sole or primary source of income in retirement. Today’s African-American workers are concentrated in low-wage jobs that typically lack pension coverage. African Americans experience high poverty and underemployment, and have less ability to save and invest for retirement than most other Americans.
Social Security protects families in the event that a worker retires, becomes disabled or dies. These guaranteed insurance benefits are especially crucial to people of color who tend to have fewer alternative resources, become disabled at higher rates, and rely on Social Security’s family benefit features disproportionately. Social Security provides many elderly Hispanics with their sole or primary source of income in retirement.
This study calculates the congressional district-level impact of a proposal put forward by the Obama administration to use the chained Consumer Price Index as the basis for annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), beginning in calendar year 2015.