Protecting the income security of Americans as they retire is a key component to assuring that all Americans are able to enjoy their retirement years in comfort and dignity. Yet we see today that many of the systems that have supported Americans in retirement have eroded substantially. The “three-legged retirement stool,” on which most workers have depended, is changing dramatically. Social Security, by itself, is inadequate to ensure lifetime income security; private pensions are disappearing rapidly; and the financial challenges of persistent economic hard times have weakened Americans’ ability to accumulate adequate retirement savings.
Some examples illustrate the scope of the problem. Most workers no longer have access to pensions through their employer. Making matters worse, half of all workers are no longer covered by any retirement plan at their place of employment. And while the savings rate is up from historic lows that were reached during the height of the Great Recession, it is still inadequate by historical standards.
By default, Social Security has become the bedrock of most Americans’ retirement. About 55 million people were receiving Social Security at the end of 2011, including 38 million workers and their dependents, 6 million survivors of deceased workers, and 11 million workers with disabilities and their families. The benefit is modest. In 2012, the average monthly payment for all retired workers is $1,240, or $14,880 per year. It is slightly less for a disabled worker, at $1,111 per month on average. Still, for more than one-third of people over the age of 65, Social Security makes up at least 90 percent of their income.
For more information on this issue, visit CHN’s Public Policy Priorities, 2013-2014.
AARP Social Security Page
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Social Security Page
Center for Economic and Policy Research Social Security Page
National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
National Education Association Social Security Page
- August 12, 2014Half in Ten: Seniors Poverty and Opportunity Profile
Policy Analyses and Research
- August 7, 2012National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
- November 1, 2010CEPR: Letter to Senator Michael Bennet on Social Security Comments