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By PAUL KLEYMAN, New
Politicians need to strengthen Social Security’s protections, especially for lower-income women, youth and ethnic elders, and stop focusing on reducing the already-modest Social Security benefits to make up for projected shortfalls for the program decades from now, said members of the Commission to Modernize Social Security during a national webinar held last week.
The commission, a group of national experts from groups representing black, Asian, Latino and Native American communities, held the online panel in conjunction with the release of an updated edition of its 2011 report, “Plan for a New Future: The Impact of Social Security Reform on People of Color.”
“The point of Social Security is that people who work hard and contribute their labor and their lives while building the economy shouldn’t die in poverty for reasons outside their control,” said Meizhu Lui, of the
“People have lost both wealth and jobs during the recession,” Lui noted, and now is not the time to reduce Social Security’s protections, such as by raising the full retirement age, said Lui, director emeritus of Insight’s Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative.
The Plan for a New Future report shows that Asians and Latinos turning 65 today live to 85 on average, three to four years longer than other demographic groups. Furthermore, says the report, because African Americans and Native Americans have lower life expectancies than other groups, Social Security’s early retirement option, allowing workers to retire at age 62 is especially important to them.