Ensuring that a growing economy is equitable and benefits all workers is an important policy priority for all elected officials. Given that women’s earnings and economic security are central to the health and well-being of U.S. households and the overall economy, each election cycle presents an opportunity to highlight the policies that would help women have access to the jobs and benefits workers need to ensure economic security for themselves and their families.
This post is the seventh in a series outlining eight key policy priorities that are critical for increasing women’s economic opportunities and securing their futures. This was originally published on the IWPR website.
Women are more likely to rely on Social Security retirement and disability benefits because they have fewer alternative sources of income after retirement, often outlive their husbands, and are more likely to be left to rear children when their husbands die or become disabled. Moreover, due to the recession, many women have lost home equity and savings to failing markets, leaving them more economically vulnerable in retirement. Women also disproportionately benefit from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as they are often living alone and in poverty at older ages.
While some women have access to pensions or retirement accounts through their employers, Social Security is a crucial support for contract, gig, and temp workers. Protecting and expanding Social Security is vital for older women’s economic security.
There are a number of policies that would help protect women (and other financially vulnerable populations) including:
■ Add a caregiving credit to Social Security benefits to cover reduced time in the labor force due to caring for family;
■ Increase the special minimum benefit;
■ Increase benefits to ensure adequacy and improve cost of living adjustments;
■ Make sure asset limits and eligibility in Medicaid, SSI, and CHIP are not affected by Social Security benefit increases;
■ Ensure that the number of Social Security offices is not decreased. Rather, the number of offices should increase in rural areas and in areas where the Social Security offices are heavily used and have long waiting periods;
■ Control prescription drug prices in the Medicare Program as well as other regulated areas of health care;
■ Reduce Medicare Limitations so that seniors can receive needed health benefits.