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DECEMBER 7, 1998   4:35 PM
CONTACT: National Women's Law Center
Shauna Helton 202-588-5180
National Women's Law Center Warns Individual Account Proposals Threaten Social Security Protections for Women, Families
WASHINGTON - December 7 - On the eve of the White House Conference on Social Security, National Women's Law Center Co-President Nancy Duff Campbell warned that proposals to replace Social Security in whole or part with individual accounts threaten essential protections for women and their families.

Campbell, an expert on Social Security who co-authored a study of earnings sharing in Social Security a decade ago, said that it was unfortunate that the debate over Social Security reform seems to be focused on moving to a system of individual accounts, which pose inherent risks for women.

"Women still earn less than men and are more likely to take timeout of the workforce to care for children and other family members," said Campbell. "Social Security provides benefits to low-wage workers that are a higher percentage of their lifetime earnings, and guarantees benefits to spouses, divorced spouses, and surviving spouses. It is hard to see how a system of individual accounts would provide these important protections for women."Campbell also noted that women, who are more likely than men to live past 85, would be especially hard pressed to obtain through individual accounts the lifetime protection that Social Security provides. "With Social Security, women don't have to worry that they will outlive their savings, or lose ground to inflation. Private annuities are costly; few are indexed for inflation; and most private annuities base monthly payments on gender, so that women have less to live on for the same investment."

Also, Campbell emphasized, "Social Security is more than a retirement program. Nearly 4 million children receive Social Security survivors or disability benefits -- and 98 percent of the parents who receive benefits for caring for them are women. The savings in individual accounts will not protect families that must cope with a wage earner's disability or early death."

Campbell praised the White House for providing an opportunity for representatives of many different communities to discuss Social Security issues with policymakers in the Administration and White House. She said she hopes the conference will shift the public debate toward the real issues: how to strengthen Social Security by reforms that ensure adequate benefits for future generations and improve the economic security of women and their families.

------ The National Women's Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women's legal rights. The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families, including economic security, employment, education, and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women.




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