Let’s get one thing straight: Social Security is insurance. The overwhelming majority of working Americans pay for it. It is a self-financed program and does not increase the deficit, so don’t cut its benefits for deficit reduction.
Funding for Social Security is solid for two decades. Improving its long-term funding is readily done by the measures you advocate — raising the cap on earnings subject to the payroll tax, and slowly and slightly raising Social Security tax rates. But don’t tamper with the longstanding design of the program: weighted in favor of low and modest earners but also rewarding higher contributions by high earners with higher benefits.
Social Security provides the largest part of retiree income. The older one gets, the larger the share it provides, and the more one needs it.
Ms. Bernstein is a national board member of the Older Women’s League. Mr. Bernstein served as the principal consultant to the 1982-1983 National Commission on Social Security Reform.
OWL members know about the perils of bone fractures; breaking a hip is one of the most feared accidents for older women.
Over the years, OWL has participated in education programs about osteoporosis. More recently, we have joined with other organizations as part of the National Bone Health Alliance, which brings together researchers, service providers, manufacturers and educators to work together to prevent second fractures. I have represented OWL in this group, and want you all to know about the most recent initiative.
Osteoporosis and low bone mass affect over 40 million Americans. With osteoporosis causing two million bone breaks every year at an estimated annual cost of $17 billion to the Medicare system, these fractures are responsible for significant human and financial costs.
One proven way to improve patient outcomes and lower health care costs is a secondary fracture prevention program, also known as a fracture liaison service (FLS). FLS programs coordinate post-fracture to ensure that individuals receive appropriate diagnosis, treatment and support.
Despite the financial and quality measure incentives for institutions to implement FLS programs, the lack of awareness, knowledge and tools have stood in the way of widespread implementation.
To solve the problem, the Alliance and its partners have launched Fracture Prevention CENTRAL. Fracture Prevention CENTRAL includes case studies, best practices and resources to help sites establish and maintain a fracture liaison service program. Ask your health care provider to check with FLS if you have any questions or concerns about fractures.
Is the country ready to take a closer look at our military budget? Barney Frank thinks so. The former congressman believes that Americans are ready to reexamine why we’re spending billions of dollars on unnecessary weapons systems at the expense of programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
He said that there are several ways to reduce Pentagon spending without cutting jobs or services to veterans. “We have three ways to drop bombs on Russia,’ he said, referring to the land, air and sea delivery systems known as the nuclear triad. “Let the Pentagon give up one.”
And the person who needs to hear this message loud and clear? The president. Frank said Obama was re-elected at the same time he was calling for military cuts – the first time a Democrat has been able to pull that off. He also pointed to Chuck Hagel’s appointment to Defense Secretary as a positive sign, since Hagel has been critical of bloated military spending in the past.
Learn more about the nation’s defense spending here And here’s Frank during a recent MSNBC appearance talking about defense cuts.
Ken Schug has been a member of the OWL Council of Champions since the beginning. He served as President of the Chicago Hyde Park OWL chapter for several years and has been a champion of enhancing opportunities for women for many years. Ken recently retired after teaching chemistry for 56 years at Illinois Institute of Technology. In the early early 1980s, he obtained funding from the National Science Foundation for a program that brought women who had majored in science back to campus to pick up their career preparation. The students took regular classes, and were typically surprised – and relieved – to find they could compete well with the younger undergraduate.
As department chair, Ken had been instrumental in hiring a woman faculty member in chemistry; she was an enthusiastic supporter of the new program. They provided each student with a mentor, who worked closely with her both during the academic preparation, and also during the internships arranged by the department. All of the students completed the program, and most went on to careers in science – often with their internship sites; two continued to complete Ph.D.s in chemistry.
We appreciate men like Ken for their continued, creative support!
The chained CPI proposal—euphemism for a cut in Social Security benefits— is a bad idea that just won’t go away. OWL is pleased to join leading organizations like AARP, AAUW, the National Partnership for Women & Families, the National Women’s Law Center and the YWCA in a print ad campaign running this week in Roll Call and Politico educating policy makers about the very real harm that would be done to women if this proposal is adopted.
The VAWA vote is a reminder of the very real difference policy can make in people’s lives. It demonstrates the power of practical and bipartisan problem-solving, of hundreds of thousands of men and women making their voices heard in D.C. The power of civic engagement. Read more in the February Observer.
Leafing through OWL co-founder Tish Sommers’ biography by Patricia Huckle and came across a familiar face—my late grandmother, Elsie Frank. It was taken during the 1982 OWL Mother’s Day campaign, on Capitol Hill. Then-House Speaker Tip O’Neill has his arm around Elsie, Tish is standing to the left in the photo along with Sylvia Brown. Mary Alice Jackson is on the right. When I started volunteering—and then working—at OWL, I felt like I was following in her footsteps. Before she passed away in 2005, she had established herself as a national advocate. There’s been a lot written about her; one of my favorites is this piece by her daughter, Ann Lewis, that she penned for the Jewish Women’s League.
OWL congratulates Sally Jewell on her well-deserved nomination as Secretary of the Interior. We also congratulate the president and his staff for finding the ideal candidate for this post. Her varied background in energy, with the environment, in retail The first woman tapped to join the president’s second-term cabinet would be giving up her position as REI’s president and CEO. We wish her smooth sailing (or kayaking, as she would probably prefer) through the sometimes-rough waters of confirmation hearings.
In a January 9 news article, OWL Policy Director Amy Shannon says the end of the payroll tax holiday is good news for Social Security.
“Tax Watchdogs for Seniors Momentarily Relieved”
By Sharon Johnson, WeNews senior correspondent
(WOMENSENEWS)—Some women’s advocates welcome the expiration of the two-year payroll tax holiday Dec. 31 because they say it ends a risky phase of financing for a public retirement system that women can’t afford to lose.
However, more battles are yet to come. The House Republicans have sworn to find cuts in social programs, including Social Security, when Congress meets during January and February.
“The payroll tax holiday was dangerous because it changed the way Social Security had been financed for 75 years,” said Amy Shannon, policy director of the Washington-based Older Women’s League, known as OWL, a grassroots organization that focuses on issues unique to women as they age. “Instead of workers and employers contributing all of the funds, part of the worker’s share came from general funds allocated by Congress.”
Had the holiday continued, Social Security might have had to compete with other government programs for funding, Shannon said. “At some point, Congress might have decided to spend the money on the military or some other program, jeopardizing the financial underpinnings of Social Security.”
Shannon describes Social Security as the bedrock of older women’s financial security. “Three out of 10 older women living alone receive virtually all their income from Social Security, so paying a few more dollars in payroll taxes during one’s working years is a good deal,” she said.
A worker’s share of Social Security tax will increase to 6.2 percent on the first $113,700 in wages earned in 2013 from 4.2 percent. A worker earning $30,000 a year will pay $600 more in taxes in 2013. Those making $50,000 will pay $1,000 and those at the top of the scale, $2,200 more.
Yesterday, OWL congratulated the administration and congressional leadership on making the tough decisions needed to avert the fiscal cliff. As a direct result of their actions, millions of Americans’ taxes will not go up; Medicare payments to physicians will not be slashed; there will be no reduction in Social Security benefits.
But the fiscal cliff spectacle also demonstrates how tempting it can be to look for short-term “fixes” instead of engaging in meaningful policymaking.
“Any discussion around the adequacy of a program as critical to millions of people as Social Security is should only be done within the context of the normal order of business, not the harried, last-minute deal-making that characterized this agreement,” said OWL Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar. “The outcry from coast to coast when the chained CPI issue was raised makes it clear that retirement security is an issue of paramount importance to the nation. We deserve to have it treated that way.”
Yesterday, proposed cuts in Social Security benefits were taken out of the budget negotiations.
Why? Because you made it clear: cutting earned benefits is not acceptable. Sometimes it’s tough to see how decisions made in D.C. affect our lives. Not today. This victory means a little more money in the pockets of people for whom every dollar counts.
Of course, these proposed cuts will continue to be offered up.
And OWL will continue to work with you to knock them down.
OWL has been a persistent and effective voice in Washington, D.C. for 32 years, working to find balanced solutions to our problems. Through education, research, and advocacy, we make sure decision-makers never forget the impact their work can have on the lives of the nation’s 74 million midlife and older women.
Your tax-deductible contribution to OWL, the only national organization focusing solely on issues affecting women as they age, means we will be able to start 2013 stronger than ever!
OWL exists because sometimes national decision makers forget that a lifetime equation of lower wages, under-employment and unpaid caregiving equals economic insecurity for millions of women.
You know that all too often, older women are invisible when major policy issues are debated and decided.
OWL is the only national organization focused exclusively on issues affecting women as they age. As 2012 draws to a close, we are asking you to make a tax-deductible contribution.
Make it in memory of a grandparent or parent. Make it in honor of the women who have made a difference in your life.
Americans made it clear this election: We want a country where we work together to find balanced solutions, not to find someone to blame. And thanks to you, OWL’s nonpartisan, solution-based message will continue to be heard loud and clear in Washington, D.C.
In the latest OWL Observer—OWL takes its message to the White House, and will a new effort to take Social Security off the table during fiscal cliff debate be successful? Also, new Affordable Care Act provisions and information on unwanted medical treatment.
The article below was published on PBS.org. To access the article, click here.
HR Guy: Nick, You have one the best blogs and websites devoted to job search and career development. I have spent over 25 years in HR working for Fortune 100 companies. One of the many “dirty little secrets” in larger corporations is the pervasiveness of age discrimination. Most people in corporations know it exists but won’t acknowledge it publicly. Do you have any useful ideas for how the over-40 candidate can solve this?
Nick Corcodilos: Thanks, HR Guy, for your kind words and for revealing something that many people have sensed. In some companies, discrimination against older job candidates is an unwritten policy. As I’ve suggested before, a person has choices. You can take them to court and sue if you can afford it. But most can’t.
You can walk away and forget about it, which is what most people seem to do. But that doesn’t solve anything. My recommendation is a sort of Zen approach. Don’t fight the mountain. Go around it.
While some employers are just so biased against older workers that it’s not worth even acknowledging them, some are passively discriminatory. That is, they do it because it’s become habit. But their attitude can be altered. How? By forcing them to focus on how you will help them make more money and more profit. That’s a tall order. I’ll give you an example.
When a Fortune 50 company downsized, they hired me to coach some employees on how to find new jobs. One of these people was 58 years old. He was tired of the discrimination he faced. He tried dyeing his hair darker. He left dates off his resume to hide his age. But he kept getting rejected. John was literally getting ready to go to divinity school to become a priest.
Here’s what I taught him to do. First, no more games with hair and resumes. No resumes at all. I helped him identify managers in companies he wanted to work for, and showed him how to contact them to discuss the problems and challenges they were facing but not to inquire about jobs. This yielded some meetings to discuss jobs. (It’s amazing how some managers hate to be asked about jobs, but when they get to know you a bit, they want to interview you.)
At the meetings, John didn’t wait to be asked about his skills or abilities. I showed him how to map out three challenges the manager was facing, and how to outline three things he could do to help. He presented this as a “mini business plan” for doing the job. The interview turned into a working meeting between a boss and an employee. The next time I saw him, John was beaming. He was waiting on one job offer, he said, and age never was an issue. “I did what you said. Before the interviewer had a chance to process my grey hair, I had him in a discussion about how we could make his operation more efficient and get the job done with less overhead cost. Suddenly he was interested in the ‘green’ rather than the ‘gray’ on my head!”
(For more about this approach, check a brief audio presentation from a workshop I did for Cornell University business students earlier this year: “Don’t Get Hired, Get Acquired”.
There’s no magic to this, and it requires picking target companies carefully, and doing a lot of preparation. Most managers are concerned first about their business success. Whether you’re an employee or a job applicant, it’s up to you to focus the manager on how you can help. Unless the manager is a true age bigot, you’ll win him over with your plan for his business. Great hires and employees are hard to come by. Prove you’re one of them, and age—like any other unrelated factor—becomes less of an issue. Or, you can go back to choice number one and sue.