Rep. Johnson’s Plan to Cut Social Security Would Have Serious Consequences for Women
Last week, Rep. Sam Johnson introduced a bill to “permanently save Social Security.” However, the plan achieves this goal by dramatically cutting Social Security benefits, a lifeline for millions of Americans. The bill would, among other things:
- raise the retirement age from 67 to 69,
- eliminate a critical source of income for the program, and
- cut Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs).
Rep. Johnson would drastically change the way benefits are calculated and switch the annual Cost of Living Adjustment to a chained CPI, which is a stealth benefit cut. Any cut to Social Security would hit women especially hard because they rely more heavily on Social Security in retirement. This is largely because women have lower lifetime earnings than men, and take more time out of the workforce to take care of children or other family members. They also, on average, live longer than men, which means they must stretch any income or savings over a longer time period. Social Security benefits are especially valuable to women because they cannot be outlived and because they keep up with inflation.
Social Security is too important to women and families to allow it to be compromised – for two-thirds of women who are 65 or older, Social Security provides most of their income—and its disability and life insurance benefits are particularly important to women and their families.
This bill also contains a troubling proposal that would allow beneficiaries to take some benefits as a lump sum, rather than over their lifetime. Altering Social Security’s calculation and form of benefits, as well as the financing of the program, is the beginning of a slippery slope that would threaten the economic security of older workers.
Social Security’s critical benefits are already modest, averaging just $13,500 per year for older women. Those vital benefits must be protected and enhanced by bringing in more revenue, not eliminating important streams of income. And benefits must not be cut for anyone – stealthily or otherwise.