Women and Social Security

April 1, 2015

The Senate Finance Committee considered gender disparities and Social Security at a meeting in December 2014.  “While Social Security benefits are gender neutral, life is not” stated one witness.  The committee heard from witnesses who reported that women often draw less income over their lives both and have earnings disrupted when they provide care for children and other relatives (presumably parents).  Often the facts of women’s lives lead them to lose insurability for benefits as families rely on women to provide care.  Overall, women have fewer savings which makes them more reliant on a reduced amount of Social Security benefits.

Policy suggestions were made such as a way for caregivers to ear qualifying credits or increasing benefits for surviving spouses.  Another suggestion was made to equalize benefits so that couples pay the same in Social Security taxes and then receive the same benefit amount.  Currently, a household where one spouse has always earned $50,000 and one the other did not work would receive substantially more in retirement benefits than a household where each spouse earns $25,000 per year.

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