Low Social Security benefits are strongly related to individual characteristics and earnings histories. These associations suggest ways of shoring up Social Security and adopting other policies to help low-wage, low-skilled workers achieve more labor market success and greater retirement security. Social Security enhancements to aid beneficiaries with intermittent histories include caregiver credits or a minimum benefit that integrates caregiving, unemployment, and disability credits. To meet long-term, low-wage workers' needs, policymakers could adjust Social Security's bend points or replacement percentages; create a new minimum benefit; or adjust current law's special minimum benefit so it provides support greater than the poverty level.
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