Press Release

CUELLAR ANNOUNCES REPORT SHOWING SOCIAL SECURITY IS PRIMARY SOURCE OF INCOME FOR ELDERLY WOMEN

U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee Report that shows Social Security is primary income source for elderly women. The report shows that Social Security accounts for more than two-thirds of all income for women aged 65 and over and that any efforts to tinker with this program could have a dramatic impact on retired women who count on their Social Security benefits to make ends meet.

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Washington D.C., November 9, 2010 | Lesley Lopez ((202)-225-1640) | comments
U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee Report that shows Social Security is primary income source for elderly women. The report shows that Social Security accounts for more than two-thirds of all income for women aged 65 and over and that any efforts to tinker with this program could have a dramatic impact on retired women who count on their Social Security benefits to make ends meet.
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Today, Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28), announced the release of a U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee Report that shows Social Security is primary income source for elderly women.  The report shows that Social Security accounts for more than two-thirds of all income for women aged 65 and over and that any efforts to tinker with this program could have a dramatic impact on retired women who count on their Social Security benefits to make ends meet.

The report, “Social Security Provides Economic Security to Women,” includes a state-by-state snapshot of the 20.3 million women aged 65 and over who receive Social Security benefits.  The report, prepared by the Majority Staff of the JEC, finds that without Social Security, half of elderly women would live in poverty. In fact, Social Security benefits bring the poverty rate for women aged 65 and over down to 12 percent.

“Our nation made a promise to Americans 75 years ago to compensate a lifetime of hard work and dedication. We must not compromise these financial benefits for the more than 3 million seniors and other beneficiaries in Texas,” said Congressman Cuellar.  “That's why I'll continue to protect this important program and its fiscal solvency for the long-term. By preserving this program and keeping it strong, we ensure future generations can also benefit from Social Security." 

The impact of Social Security is particularly striking among widows aged 65 and over: 58 percent of widows would be living in poverty without Social Security; with Social Security, the poverty rate drops to 15 percent.

Nationally, women aged 65 and over represent 9.8 percent of the adult population; in Texas, elderly women make up 8.1 percent of the adult population. Social Security benefits are based on lifetime earnings, with the average monthly benefit for women aged 65 and over ranging from a low of $891 in Louisiana to a high of $1,126 in New Jersey.  

 “Social Security is literally a lifeline for most elderly women,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Chair of the JEC.  “Senior citizens, and particularly elderly women, need to be wary of proposals that change the way Social Security operates.  Social Security works.  It keeps millions of people out of poverty.  We cannot afford to mess it up.”

A key finding of an earlier JEC report on Social Security is that with privatization, retirees will be subject to fluctuations in the performance of the stock market and overall returns will vary based on individual investment decisions, with significant swings in returns and account accumulations possible from year to year and even month to month.

An annuity purchased in 2008 by a worker who had invested solely in the stock market over a 40-year work history would replace only 40 percent of his final income, down from 87 percent replacement just two years earlier.  For example, a worker expecting an annuity of $867 per month in 2006 would have received $399 per month if he retired in 2008.

“Social Security should not be undermined by stock market risk,” said Congressman Cuellar. As millions of Americans found out earlier this decade, the stock market is an inherently risky venture. The system was created and has served for generations as social insurance, not social investment and we owe it to our seniors and our children and ourselves to preserve that guarantee.  I hope that we can come together, on both sides of the aisle and find a reasonable, bipartisan solution to this problem.”

 

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