Facts: Social Security Is Vital to Women
March 3, 2005
- 155.1 million women and men work in jobs covered by Social Security; waged salaried workers pay 6.2% of their earningsmatched by the same amount from their employersin payroll taxes known as FICA.
- 58% of all Social Security beneficiaries 65 and older are women, increasing to 71% of all beneficiaries 85 and older.
- Social Security provides retirement benefits for worker's spouses equal to 50% of the worker's benefits; widows of workers receive 100% of the worker's retirement benefit.
- Social Security provides 50% or more of retirement income for two-thirds of older persons; for elderly women, Social Security constitutes 90% of their income.
- 38% of all Social Security benefits are paid to disabled workers, spouses of retired and disabled workers, dependent children, and survivors; out of the 47 million who receive benefits, 18 million are not retired workers.
- 6 million disabled workers receive benefits; the average monthly payment to a disabled worker is about $862; for a disabled worker with a spouse and one or more children, the average monthly payment is $1,441.
- 5 million spouses and children of retired and disabled workers receive benefits.
- More than 7 million children and spouses of deceased workers receive monthly Survivors' Benefit checks averaging $1,400. 2 million of these beneficiaries are children.
- For worker with a lifetime of low wagesmany of whom are womenSocial Security provides proportionately higher monthly benefits through a formula that is weighted to help low-income earners.
- Social Security is credited with lifting 13 million seniors in the United States out of poverty. Without counting their Social Security income, nearly half of all elderly Americans (46.8 percent) have below poverty line incomes. With Social Security, that number is reduced to only 8.7 percent of all elderly Americans.
- 60% of full-time women workers currently participate in private pension plans, but only 28% of women over age 65 receive retirement benefits other than Social Security. This is compared to 43% of men over age 65 who receive retirement benefits other than Social Security. Significantly fewer women of color receive private pension benefits.
- Under privatization, a woman's retirement benefit would depend on her contributions to a private account based on a percentage of her earningscontributions that would be less throughout her working years because of pay discrimination and time out of the paid workforce. Critically important family benefits for death and disability would be lost as would inflation-proofing and guaranteed lifetime benefits that exist under Social Security.
- With private accounts, workers with low savings would be required to purchase expensive annuities which can not be "passed on" to heirs. In addition, insurance companies are allowed to discriminate against women by charging or paying out lower monthly benefits because some women live longer than some men.
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