Social Security Vital to Women
This information was current as of spring 1999. Updated statistics (as of March 2005) are also available.
145 million people work in jobs covered by Social Security; waged and salaried
workers pay 7.65% of their earnings matched by the same amount from their
employers in the FICA tax. Nearly 60% of the 44 million Social Security
(OASDI) recipients are women.
Social Security provides retirement benefits for wives or widows that is
equal to 50% of their husbands' benefits and returns more to low-income
workers through a progressive benefit formula.
Social Security provides 50% or more of retirement income for two-thirds
of elderly persons; for elderly women Social Security constitutes 90% of
4 million disabled workers under 65 and 1.6 million dependents receive
benefits; the average monthly payment to a disabled worker is about $720;
for a disabled worker with a spouse and one or more children, the average
monthly payment is $1,200.
3 million children and their remaining care-taking parent receive Social
Security Supplemental Income (SSI) checks for widowed mothers, at an average
monthly payment of $1,500. Monthly survivor benefits are paid to
7.2 million people, including 2 million children.
Social Security led to a drop in the ratio of older people living below
the poverty threshhold from 35.2% to 10.8% between 1965 and 1996.
Only 38% of women receive employer-provided pension benefits, compared
to 57% of men. Even fewer women of color receive private pension benefits.
Under privatization, a woman's retirement benefit would depend on her contributions
to a private account, even though she probably earned less due to pay discrimination
and time out of the paid workforce. Family benefits for death and disability
would be lost as would inflation-proofing and guaranteed lifetime benefits.
With private accounts, expensive annuities would have to be purchased to
provide a lifelong income, but annuities traditionally discriminate against
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