Leaders of Women’s Organizations Urge President and Congress to Protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid

The co-chairs of the Older Women’s Economic Security Task Force (OWES), part of the National Coalition of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), are calling on President Obama and the U.S. Congress not to agree to benefit cuts in Social Security in an effort to reach a final budget agreement and raise the national debt limit. OWES is instead demanding a budget plan that requires the wealthy and big corporations to pay their fair share in taxes and generates jobs for women and men alike.

“Social Security benefits should not even be on the table,” said NOW President Terry O’Neill, who is also the co-chair of the OWES Task Force. “We are opposed to any cuts to Social Security and Medicare or Medicaid, programs that millions of women rely on.”

The kinds of changes being discussed, such as the ‘chained CPI’ and further increasing the retirement age above 67, would have a devastating impact on women. The chained CPI masquerades as a technical fix, but is a benefit cut pure and simple. When substituted for the current Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA), it would reduce benefits immediately for everyone and have a cumulative effect over the retirement years, so that it would result in substantial benefit cuts for older recipients (a 9 percent cut after 30 years).

Women are two-thirds of retirees aged 85 and older. The average monthly Social Security check for women is about $1,000, and half of women aged 65 and older rely on Social Security for at least 80 percent of their income.

“At age 85 and older, 81 percent of women are unmarried. It is these older, single women who will be hit the hardest by the chained CPI. Benefit cuts should be off the table. The President and Congressional leaders should be focusing on creating jobs-economic growth is the best way to reduce the deficit,” said IWPR President, Heidi Hartmann, a labor economist who is also co-chair of OWES.

The National Council of Women’s Organizations is composed of more than 240 women’s organizations representing more than 12 million U.S. women. The Older Women’s Economic Security (OWES) Task Force was formed in 1998 to study, monitor, and act to enhance older women’s economic security. NOW and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) are co-chairs of the OWES Task Force.


Contact: Caitlin Gullickson, media[at]now.org, 202-628-8669 ext 123