On Monday, President Barack Obama proposed an increase in funding by $1 billion to the Social Security Administration (SSA) as part of a 2012 budget proposal. The increased funding in the $3.73 trillion budget brings the SSA’s funding total to $12.5 billion. This funding boost will assist the number of older Americans who rely on Social Security, a number that has increased dramatically in the past decade—particularly among men—according to recent research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).
As a result of both the aging baby boom population and the large jump in unemployment during the recession, applications for Social Security benefits have increased substantially in the last few years, resulting in a backlog.
“Social Security is more needed than ever,” said Heidi Hartmann, President of IWPR and lead author of the
Social Security Especially Vital to Women and People of Color, Men Increasingly Reliant
. “It has served as the bedrock of retirement income for several generations of Americans. Social Security is the one income stream that is secure and does not fluctuate with the marketplace.”
The recent IWPR report,
at the National Press Club on January 27, shows that reliance on Social Security for retirement income has increased significantly since 1999—particularly among men. Between 1999 and 2009, the number of men aged 65 and older relying on Social Security for at least 80 percent of their incomes increased by 48 percent (from 3.8 million to 5.7 million) to equal more than a third of all men aged 65 and older in 2009. The increase for comparable women was 26 percent (from 8.2 million to 10.3 million) to equal half of older women in 2009. The study, based on analysis of data from the 1978 to 2010 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplements (ASEC), also found an increasing number of older Americans working longer.
The added $1 billion in funding proposed by the President is designed to address the backlog in Social Security applications that has been exacerbated by the recent recession. According to a statement released Tuesday by two members of the House Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. Reps. Sander Levin and Xavier Becerra, failure to pass the funding increase to SSA could have a drastic impact on the applications backlog. For example, 400,000 people would not have their retirement, survivors, and Medicare applications processed this year, resulting in a large backlog of unprocessed retirement and survivor claims for the first time in SSA history.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies. IWPR is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that also works in affiliation with the women’s studies and public policy programs at George Washington University.