ARLINGTON, VA — As the Older Women’s League (OWL) uses its annual Mother’s Day Report, released today, to inaccurately condemn any Social Security reform proposals that include individual, defined contributions, the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) questions the OWL’s wisdom.
Unfortunately, OWL seems guilty of traditional, knee-jerk liberalism: They tell us what they don’t like any progressive change in how Social Security is structured but offer no formula for change, comments Nancy M. Pfotenhauer, IWF president.
Women face unintentional, but significant, systematic under-compensation inherent in the current system. First of all, women who try to balance the twin stresses of work and home by taking some time out of the workforce to care for young children or an aging parent suffer because this “time out” lowers their overall earnings upon which benefits are calculated.
And if a woman outlives her husband as she is likely to do — her overall household benefit will fall dramatically, despite the fact that her overall expenses do not.
Widowed women though, bear the brunt of Social Security’s inadvertent discrimination, Pfotenhauer says. The dual entitlement rule which prohibits a married woman from qualifying for both a spousal benefit and an individual benefit is particularly harmful. By its own estimates, the Social Security Administration reports that 24 percent of married and widowed women have their benefits slashed by the dual-entitlement rule.
Pfotenhauer, an economist by trade, testified earlier this year before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, urging Congress to replace the current Social Security system with a funded system of individual, defined contribution accounts. “This is the best way to both avoid an imminent financial crisis and create a system that is fair to every American,”she remarks, responding to OWL’s sky-is-falling approach to reform.
The Independent Women’s Forum, founded in 1992, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.