Maloney: New Report Shows Social Security is Primary Income Source for Elderly Women

Oct 28, 2010
Press Release

Washington, DC - A new report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, chaired by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), finds that Social Security accounts for more than two-thirds of all income for women aged 65 and over and that any efforts to tinker with this program could have a dramatic impact on retired women who count on their Social Security benefits to make ends meet.

The report, “Social Security Provides Economic Security to Women,” includes a state-by-state snapshot of the 20.3 million women aged 65 and over who receive Social Security benefits. There are more than 1.3 million elderly women in New York State who receive Social Security and their average monthly benefit is $1,075. Women aged 65 and over make up 10.2 percent of New York State’s adult population.

The report, prepared by the Majority Staff of the JEC, finds that women are especially dependent on Social Security for staying out of poverty. Without Social Security, half of elderly women nationwide would live in poverty; Social Security benefits bring the poverty rate for women aged 65 and over down to 12 percent. The impact of Social Security is particularly striking among widows aged 65 and over: 58 percent of widows would be living in poverty without Social Security; with Social Security, the poverty rate drops to 15 percent.

“Social Security is an economic lifeline for over one million New York elderly women,” said Congresswoman Maloney, Chair of the JEC. “Senior citizens, and particularly elderly women, need to be wary of proposals that change the way Social Security operates because it will have such a profound impact on their economic well-being.”

Continued Maloney, “Republican proposals that sound too good to be true are, in fact, not true, and will be devastating to women who depend on Social Security in their later years. It is just plain wrong to bet seniors’ retirement income on the performance of the stock market, as recent GOP proposals do. Social Security delivers an inflation-protected annuity. The Republican privatization proposals deliver risk and uncertainty.”

A key finding of an earlier JEC report on Social Security is that with privatization, retirees will be subject to fluctuations in the performance of the stock market and overall returns will vary based on individual investment decisions, with significant swings in returns and account accumulations possible from year to year and even month to month.

An annuity purchased in 2008 by a worker who had invested solely in the stock market over a 40-year work history would replace only 40 percent of his final income, down from 87 percent replacement just two years earlier. For example, a worker expecting an annuity of $867 per month in 2006 would have received $399 per month if he retired in 2008.