Social Security Cuts Disproportionally Affect Women

A proposed plan to base Social Security on an average of 38 instead of 35 years work will disproportionally hurt women. An Advisory Council on Social Security plans to deal with cuts including the above change in calculating benefits. Only 15% of women have been in the workforce for an average of 38 years while 57% of men have worked that long. Women often take years off of work to raise children and this affects their average work years. Edith U. Fierst, a council member, commented, “It would be unfortunate if mothers, pressured by fear of poverty in old age, gave up opportunities to stay at home with young children…In an ideal world the father of her children would take care of the mother’s retirement needs…” However, many fathers are absent and when couples divorce, the woman generally loses the right to share her husband’s retirement benefits. Fierst notes that government statistics show that the largest segment of the poor elderly are widows, who have a poverty rate in excess of 40%.


The Los Angeles Times - December 19, 1996

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