Minimum Benefits in Social Security Could Reduce Aged Poverty

Brief

Minimum Benefits in Social Security Could Reduce Aged Poverty

Abstract

Despite Social Security's success at bolstering retirement security, many older Americans remain mired in poverty. Because Social Security does not guarantee a minimum benefit, many long-service, low-wage workers receive benefits that leave them below the poverty line. African Americans, Hispanics, and unmarried women are especially vulnerable. Although productivity gains are likely to reduce old-age poverty over time, Social Security's long-term financing problem makes future benefit cuts likely. This analysis explores two potential minimum-benefit designs and shows that an effective minimum benefit could help protect the highest-risk groups.

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