Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) today joined other women members of the House of Representatives in sending a message to Congress and the Clinton Administration: The concerns of women must be a priority in the on-going discussion about how to reform Social Security. "While it's possible that some adjustments to Social Security will be needed to provide benefits for aging baby boomers, there is nothing to suggest that radical changes to the system are necessary," Pelosi said. "Social Security must be protected as do the elderly women who rely it for their financial survival."
Three different studies, including one from the General Accounting Office, show some of the proposals to reform Social Security would exacerbate current inequities. The GAO found that plans to divert Social Security revenue to private savings accounts would adversely impact women. "It's unacceptable that any so-called 'fix' would further penalize women for living longer or for taking time out from the workforce to care for a child or sick parent," Rep. Pelosi said.
Although women constitute about half of the population, they make up sixty percent of Social Security recipients. Women have significantly different work patterns and continue to earn less than men, earning on average, 70 cents for every dollar a man earns. Women are also more likely to work part-time and take time out of the workforce — 11.5 years on average — to raise their children and to care for ailing parents or spouses. Moreover, women live longer and are more likely to live out their final years in poverty.
Rep. Pelosi was one of 40 women members of Congress who wrote the President and Vice President in June, urging them to directly address women's concerns in their series of public discussions about Social Security's future. The group will formally request that the Social Security Administration study the effects on women of the major reform plans already proposed.
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