FACTORS AFFECTING SPECIFIC BENEFITS
In the preceding chapter broad factors were considered regarding the general level of benefits for the system as a whole. The present chapter will deal with special factors regarding benefits in the case of (1) old age, (2) disability, (3) sickness, (4) unemployment, and (5) death.
The first question which should be answered with respect to an old-age benefit in a social security system is "What is its purpose?" The major purpose, beyond argument, is to provide at least a subsistence level of living for persons who because of their age are no longer able to earn a living for themselves and, in the case of married women, can no longer be supported by their husbands.
In the case of individual employer or industry retirement funds, a definitely recognized objective was to enable the employer, without committing a grave injustice, to retire an employee when his effectiveness began to wane because of advancing age, and to be in a position to replace the old worker with a younger one, presumably more efficient. That replacement, moreover, opened up opportunities for the younger employees to advance to the higher positions and, as the phrase ran, "resulted in promotions all down the line." To secure these results without embarrassment or hard feeling, most retirement systems provided a compulsory retirement age, although many systems permitted continuance beyond the compulsory age, usually in the discretion of the employer. Thus a major objective was to permit an organization to maintain its efficiency and still not do a grave injustice to the individual. To prevent injustices to workers who had attained the more responsible, more highly paid positions, substantial retirement allowances were paid to them. Not infrequently average salary in the last