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Posted on 05-05-2011
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Latinos who rely on Social Security feel threatened by cuts
Hispanic seniors receive the lowest average benefits due to lower lifetime earnings.

Current proposals to change Social Security threaten to reduce the modest benefits that Latino senior citizens across the country rely on for nearly their entire livelihood. This was the message delivered recently at a town hall in Philadelphia that launched the Latinos and Social Security, ¡Tu Futuro Cuenta! campaign.
The town hall was hosted by several leading Latino organizations working together to protect the integrity of the federal social insurance program, including Congreso de Latinos Unidos (Congreso), Democracia U.S.A. (DUSA), National Council of La Raza (NCLR), and Latinos for a Secure Retirement (LSR). The forum featured members of local government officials, and national Latino leaders who addressed myths and concerns about Social Security and discussed its importance to Latino families.
“Policymakers should be focused on protecting and strengthening the bedrock of our nation’s retirement security,” stated Jeff Cruz, Executive Director of Latinos for a Secure Retirement. “Cuts to benefits would be disastrous for Latino seniors who barely survive now and would be forced into needless hardship.”
Latino seniors are particularly vulnerable to cuts and changes to Social Security. Although the program keeps millions of seniors out of poverty, the average yearly Social Security benefit for Hispanic seniors is only $12,213 for men and only $9,536 for women. These benefits represent nearly all of the income for most Latino seniors. While Social Security’s progressive benefit formula favors low-wage workers, Hispanic seniors receive the lowest average benefits due to lower lifetime earnings.
Latino seniors also lack access to the program. Seventy-three percent of Hispanic seniors receive Social Security compared to 86% of all seniors. Low-income Latino workers often have employers who underpay them or do not report their wages to Social Security, which leads to greater ineligibility. Furthermore, laws covering domestic workers make it harder for them to qualify for coverage under Social Security.
“Our deficit crisis has nothing to do with Social Security, our most important social safety net,” said Leticia Miranda, Associate Director of NCLR’s Employment and Economic Policy Project. “We should be strengthening the program to improve benefits and access for low-income seniors.”
Social Security is widely recognized as a successful, efficient public program that serves as a powerful safety net for Americans who cannot work due to age or disability. Yet the plan has been repeatedly attacked under the guise of deficit reduction, despite the fact that Social Security has not contributed one dime to the federal deficit and ...
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