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bain_sidhe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 08:41 PM
Original message
But what about mom?
Another post from my blog... it's a long one, so I won't reproduce the whole thing here, but it's an aspect of the partial phase-out of Social Security that I haven't seen discussed much (actually, I haven't seen it discussed at all, but maybe I missed something somewhere).

But What About Mom?

Curiously absent from the debate over the partial phase-out of Social Security (thanks to Josh Marshall for that frame"!) is any examination of its effect on women. Or, perhaps not so curious, since Bullshits privatization scheme is likely to be devastating to many women - particularly unpaid at-home mothers. (You would think a party that trumpets traditional family values - including stay-at-home mothers - would go out of their way to make things easier for those mothers to choose to stay home. But then, hypocricy has been a hallmark of this malAdministration from the get-go.)

Maybe I only notice it because I researched the subject during the 2000 election, while serving as About.coms Guide to Womens Issues, and I saw then how bad Bullshits proposal would be for women. Its only gotten worse. My report on that issue started with the somewhat sensationalist warning that women could work their whole lives and not see a penny of their Social Security benefits - and that was the good news. What follows is an updated version of that report. (I thought Id mention that in case some of it looks familiar to you - yes, you might have seen it before, but Im not a plagiarist I wrote that one, too. ;) )

Currently, when a couple retires, they may each chose to receive their own, individually-earned benefits, or the lower-earning spouse may elect to receive 50 percent of the higher-earning spouses benefits (called spousal benefits) instead of her own earned benefit. Since women generally earn less than men, and often take time out of the paid work force to raise children, it is quite possible that a womans earned benefit may be less than her spousal benefit. On top of that, if her husband dies before she retires, she has the option of receiving 100 percent of either her own earned benefits, or 100 percent of the deceased spouses earned benefits (called survivor benefits). Again, since womens earnings are usually less than their husbands earnings, most women choose the survivor benefit rather than their own earned benefit.

This is not really as bad as it sounds however (which is why its the good news), because it entitles women who have never worked outside the home to receive at least a minimum level of benefits, and provides some recognition of their contribution to the family in their work as wives and mothers.


So, it isnt that the current system is great for women, it isnt; its that Bullshits plan would be so much worse. As it exists now, the Social Security structure has three benefits that are not likely to be included in any privatized system: It pays a benefit to women who have spent their lives doing the unpaid work of wives and mothers; it pays a guaranteed benefit for life; and it is adjusted for inflation. A fourth provision affects the growing numbers of marriages that end in divorce: Any (and all) divorced spouses who were married more than 10 years are entitled to spousal and survivors benefits based on their ex-spouses Social Security account.

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progressiveBadger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 08:51 PM
Response to Original message
1. Pile this on top of the fact that women tend to live longer
and you have a huge problem.

It isn't bad enough that the formula for determining benifits is stacked against women, but now they have to slap them in the face at the end as well.
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bain_sidhe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-11-05 09:50 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Exactly. An interesting factoid
from my original report (from a study that is no longer available on the web, imagine that... it's like they're hiding something!) is that a GAO report in 1997 found that 80% of the widows living in poverty weren't living in poverty while their husbands were alive.
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