State of the Union and Social Security

The Real State of Social Security

Washington, D.C.-February 02, 2005: In tonight’s State of the Union speech, President Bush made his case to privatize Social Security. For weeks the Administration has been ringing the alarm bells that Social Security is in “crisis.” But what is the real state of Social Security? According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the program will be solvent for almost another half century (until 2052). Meanwhile, our health care system is facing a real crisis with the rapidly increasing costs of prescription drugs, insurance premiums, Medicare, and Medicaid, and the continuing increase in the number of uninsured Americans-50 million.

If the President succeeds in his plan to privatize Social Security, women will be particularly vulnerable:

  • Most Social Security checks are sent to women, because women live longer than men. Personal private accounts don’t provide guaranteed life-time benefits.
  • Women depend more on Social Security than men, because women are less likely to have their own private pensions when they retire. When women have private pensions, their pension checks are, on average, half as large as men’s pension checks. That’s why any benefit cuts especially will harm women.
  • If the cuts in benefits necessary for privatization are also applied to Social Security disability and survivor benefits, they will particularly harm women. More than 7.5 million women on Social Security and 2.7 million children under 18 receive disability or survivor benefits.

Social Security is more than a retirement program – it is a social insurance program that keeps millions of Americans out of poverty. The Social Security system is not bankrupt, but it should be strengthened before the baby boomers retire. For example, the Social Security Trust Fund could be invested in stocks and bonds, and that would improve long-term solvency. We must maintain guaranteed benefits that provide a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens – our lowest earners and those living alone. Most of these are women.

The National Research Center for Women & Families, formerly the National Center for Policy Research for Women & Families, provides consumer- friendly research-based information on a wide range of issues affecting women, children, and families. See for more information.