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Social Security Privatization: A Bad Deal for Women

Women Represent 76 Percent of NEA's 2.7 Million Members.

Women Rely on Social Security More Than Men Do

The President wants to allow workers to divert part of their payroll taxes into private accounts, saying that these private accounts would be voluntary. But the benefit cuts in the plan would be mandatory for everyone. These cuts would be devastating for women, who rely more on Social Security than men do. Nationally, 20 percent of adults receive Social Security benefits, including 22 percent of women and 18 percent of men. About 24 million women, 18 million men, and 3 million children rely on Social Security benefits. Women comprise 58 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries aged 65 and older.

Social Security Provides a Number of Features Especially Valuable to Women that Private Accounts Cannot Match

According to the National Women's Law Center, without Social Security, more than half of women over 65 would be poor. Social Security helps level the playing field for women, who on average earn less then men and have fewer years in the workforce, while privatization would provide benefits based only on worker contributions, which would disproportionately harm women. Women would be penalized for time spent out of the workforce for childcare and care of the sick and elderly.

Social Security Is the Foundation of Women's Economic Security in Retirement

Women rely more on Social Security for retirement income than men do. The program provides 90 percent or more of the income received by more than 40 percent of unmarried women -- widowed, divorced or never-married women. Without Social Security, more than half of older women would be poor.

Social Security Pays Benefits that Cannot Be Outlived, with Annual Cost-of-Living Adjustments

These features are particularly important to women because they tend to live longer than men but have fewer assets when they reach retirement. Savings in individual accounts could be drained by health costs, bad luck, or misjudgment in investments, or simply outliving your savings.

Social Security Offers Support to Americans When the Unexpected Happens

It replaces lost income for workers and their spouses and children when a worker becomes disabled or dies prematurely. Women are much more likely than men to receive Social Security benefits as family members when a worker dies, retires or becomes disabled. For a young family, Social Security provides the equivalent of a life insurance policy worth over $400,000 and a disability insurance policy worth over $350,000, according to the Social Security actuaries.

State-specific Information

A report by the National Women's Law Center provides an analysis for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia about the importance of Social Security to women, children and the states, and the impact of cuts in Social Security benefits contemplated in the leading privatization plan. A copy of the report, including fact sheets for the 50 states and the District of Columbia, is available at PDF, 61 pp.

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