How Social Security could help fix retirement inequality

Ben Vegthe, Social Security Works

Ben Veghte, Social Security Works


Americans need bigger retirement nest eggs, there is no doubt about that. More than half of us have saved less than $25,000, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Policy experts often point to such figures to underscore the looming retirement security crisis, and proposals have been flying this year from Republicans and Democrats alike for ways to encourage people to sock away more money.

Just one problem: Middle- and lower-income households often do not earn enough to save meaningful amounts due to decades of stagnant wage growth, job insecurity and the rising costs of housing and healthcare. Only high-income households have managed to build significant savings, and the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College says 52 percent of today’s working-age households face the shock of declining living standards in retirement.

In other words, income inequality is translating into retirement inequality.

Here is a better option: Expand Social Security benefits to help people who need it most.

“If you have a dollar to spend on retirement security, it’s much better to spend it on Social Security than by spreading it out along tax brackets to incent retirement savings,” says Ben Veghte, research director of the Social Security Works advocacy group. Veghte makes the case for using Social Security to address retirement inequality in a persuasive research paper set for publication in the June issue of the journal Poverty and Public Policy. He recommends expanding benefits and funding the cost primarily by scrapping the cap on wages subject to payroll taxes, taxing investment income and boosting the estate tax.

Learn more at Reuters Money.


  1. Jan Martz says:

    Am I able to receive a portion of my husband’s Social Security even though I am still working? He is age 71 and I am 66. I am still working full time, and I am not drawing my Social Security.

  2. Mark Miller says:

    Short answer – yes. Long answer – download my guide to spousal benefits!

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