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Strong Consensus on Improving Social Security Benefits despite Party Differences

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SOURCE Institute for Women's Policy Research

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new study from the Institute for Women's Policy Research sheds new light on expert and lawmaker perspectives on the prospect of Social Security reform. Based on interviews, which took place five years ago, with Social Security experts and lawmakers, the report reviews experts' expectations for Social Security reform five years out with summaries of what proposals had bipartisan support at the time of the interviews.

"From the President's Fiscal Commission to the fiscal cliff, debate around changes to Social Security played a prominent role in the 'grand bargain' budget negotiations and shaped policy discussions in Washington over the last five years," said IWPR President and author of the report, Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. "It is interesting to see what lawmakers and experts predicted would happen and what actually did happen."

The study finds the following areas of consensus on Social Security reform:

  • Most experts and policymakers, on both ends of the political spectrum, are open to modernizing the system to account for changes in women's lives. A bipartisan majority expressed support for a proposal like caregiving credits and there is strong bipartisan support for expanding disability eligibility to homemakers.
  • Benefit adequacy was deemed an important policy priority by virtually all interviewed and there was widespread support for an increase in the minimum benefit. Yet, virtually everyone interviewed agreed that there is not likely to be any consideration of benefit increases unless there is also a solution to the long-term funding gap.
  • Several respondents on both sides of the aisle pointed out that an increase in the retirement age is not likely, not only because it is very unpopular, but also because older people can see that there are simply not enough employers willing and able to provide jobs to older workers.

"From the vantage point of 2014, the political climate in the U.S. Congress has become much more polarized," said Dr. Hartmann. "The failure to achieve any bipartisan reform to date suggests that Social Security remains a third rail in American politics."

The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.

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