Alison Shelton, a senior strategic policy advisor with the AARP Public Policy Institute Economics Team, has written and spoken on Social Security and retirement security for over a decade. She has authored or co-authored numerous papers on the Social Security program and proposals for reform.

The Disappearing Social Security Minimum Benefit

Social Security has a minimum benefit? Yes, it’s true. Congress designed the Social Security special minimum benefit in 1972 to help workers who have earned low wages for many years. But today, the benefit helps very few older Americans and unless Congress takes action, the benefit is on the road to extinction. Sophia’s story is typical. She worked for 25 years as a clerk in a factory and doing odd jobs for wages that averaged about $9 per hour (about …

Social Security Is a Lifeline for Many Older Women

Social Security provides a financial lifeline that is especially important for older women. U.S. Census Bureau data show that, in 2011, 26.5 percent of older women (compared with 20 percent for older men) relied on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their family income. Why is this? One reason is that older women are less likely than older men to have other sources of income, such as pensions or asset income. Also, women working full time generally earn …

Social Security: Still Lifting Many Older Americans Out of Poverty

In the early 1930s, before Social Security was created, many older Americans were destitute or depended on help from family and friends for basic needs like food and shelter. Today, Social Security is the nation’s single most important anti-poverty tool – lifting about 21.4 million people of all ages out of poverty. Social Security lifts about 35 percent of older Americans (almost 14.5 million) out of poverty by providing a regular, guaranteed retirement income. Thanks to Social Security, only about …