Countdown Day 4: Top Ten Facts About Social Security

August 12, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Continuing our countdown of the top ten facts about Social Security in honor of its 75th anniversary this weekend, here are today’s two:

Social Security is particularly important for African Americans and Hispanics. A person’s race and ethnicity do not affect his or her Social Security eligibility or benefit levels.  However, Social Security is a particularly important source of income for groups with low earnings and with less opportunity to save and earn pensions, including African Americans and Hispanics.

Among beneficiaries aged 65 and older, Social Security represents 90 percent or more of income for:

  • 25 percent of Caucasians,
  • 34 percent of African Americans, and
  • 33 percent of Hispanics.

As we mentioned earlier, Social Security is more than just a retirement program, and its disability and survivor protections are very important to minorities.

Social Security is especially beneficial for women. Because women tend to earn less than men, take more time out of the paid workforce, live longer, accumulate less savings, and receive smaller pensions, Social Security is especially important for them.   Women pay 40 percent of Social Security payroll taxes but receive 49 percent of benefits.  They benefit disproportionately from the program’s inflation-protected benefits (because women tend to live longer than men), its progressive formula for computing benefits (because they tend to have lower earnings), and its benefits for spouses and survivors.

UPDATE:   View the rest of the Countdown:  Day Three | Day Two | Day One

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More About Kathy Ruffing

Kathy Ruffing

Kathy Ruffing is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, specializing in federal budget issues.

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