A Retired Woman's Best Friend: Social Security

By Beedon, Laurel; Wu, Kebin | Aging Today, November/December 2004 | Go to article overview

A Retired Woman's Best Friend: Social Security


Beedon, Laurel, Wu, Kebin, Aging Today


A group of pension experts met in Washington, D.C., last July to discuss pension coverage and retirement income security in the United States. They pointed out the need for a retirement income vehicle with several specific characteristics-it goes from job to job with the worker, provides a steady stream of income that lasts for the life of the retiree and is adjusted to keep pace with the cost of living. After a lengthy discussion, one voice piped up and reminded the roomful of authorities, "We already have that-it's Social Security."

Retirement income security is often depicted as a roof supported by pillars. Generally, those pillars include Social security, pensions and savings, work, public assistance programs and healthcare insurance. Among those with lowerincome and middle-income work histories and little, if any, pension coverage, older women are especially helped by Social Security.

Although some women have planned enough, been lucky enough or inherited enough to have sufficient and stable retirement income, the sad fact is that for many women, the financial picture for their retirement is bleak. The one bright spot is Social security. Ironically, though, many women don't understand what the program provides. It is interesting to note that people who have pension coverage consistently overestimate the portion of retirement income they will receive from their pension and underestimate the share of their income security they will receive from Social security. Following are key facts about the financial security of older American women.

WOMEN AND POVERTY

Poverty for all people age 65 or older in the United States has been reduced significantly since the 19705. Yet, impoverishment remains a primary issue for older women-particularly those belonging to certain ethnic and racial groups. The poverty rates for older African American women (27.6%) and female Hispanic elders (23.6%) are about double the 12.4% level for all older women in the United States. Disproportionate percentages of older minority women also hover at income levels not far above the poverty line. Of older African American women, 38.8% are below 125% of the federal poverty threshold, and 34.5% of Latina elders are also in this category. And for those with incomes below 150% of the U.S. poverty barrier, the rates are a whopping 48.4% for African American women and 44.7% for Latina elders. Women in this group are only one medical emergency or expensive prescription drug away from poverty.

Without Social Security, those living in poverty or near poverty would be even more vulnerable. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program was designed to assure a minimum income to elders and to people with blindness or disabilities who have limited income and assets. However, the federal SSI benefit has never raised recipients above the poverty threshold. Actually, Social security is more successful at reducing poverty for older people than any of the explicitly antipoverty programs.

Social security is by far the dominant income source for older Americans, benefiting about 90% of those age 65 or older, including both workers and spouses of workers. Not only do most older women receive benefits-they depend heavily on them. Currently, more than two-thirds of older people depend on Social security for at least half of their income. Older people who are alone count on Social security for an even larger portion: Eighty-one percent of unmarried men and 87% of widowed, divorced and never-married women depend on Social security for at least 50% of their income. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Retired Woman's Best Friend: Social Security
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.