Social Security Benefits Remain a Vital Source of Retirement Income for Latinos

Social Security Benefits Remain a Vital Source of Retirement Income for Latinos

New report by the University of Southern California (USC) Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging underscores the importance of Social Security to Latinos


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WASHINGTON, May 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Social Security is a critical income source for elderly and disabled Latinos because of their socioeconomic condition, higher rates of disability and longer life expectancy, according to a report published by the University of Southern California (USC) Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging.

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“Social Security is currently the only robust, reliable source of retirement income for low-income workers, underscoring the importance of ensuring the program’s viability for current, future and retired Latino workers,” said USC Roybal Institute Executive Director William A. Vega, who co-authored the primer, commissioned by AARP, with Pre-Doctoral Fellow Zachary D. Gassoumis.

Latinos represent a significant percentage of working-class laborers in sectors with fluctuating seasonal employment, where occupational injuries and disabilities are common, and where there are fewer opportunities to participate in a workplace savings program. Both working age and older Latinos have higher rates of disability than non-Latino whites. Accordingly, the primer said, increasing the retirement age for Social Security would impose a significant and disproportionate financial burden on Latinos who retire early due to work-related health issues.

Noting that Latinos’ average life expectancy exceeds that of Americans overall, the report highlighted the importance of ensuring benefits to qualified Latinos are not eroded over time by inflation and continue to allow families to meet their basic financial necessities.

“We must stay true to the original intention of Social Security, and provide adequate resources for a sustainable and dignified retirement,” Vega said. “Given current unstable economic conditions, this will require a sufficiently flexible policy framework that will not render people with low incomes vulnerable to hardships that other Americans are not expected to endure.”

Almost half of all older Latinos would live in poverty without Social Security benefits; 25 percent of Latino men and 27 percent of Latinas aged 65 or older relied on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their family income, the report said.

Although Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in the nation, they remain a relatively young population and will contribute to the Social Security system for many years to come without receiving benefits until decades later, the primer said.

“The promise of retirement security that Social Security provides for millions of Americans today is particularly significant to Latinos, both now and in the future, as demonstrated by this important research,” said AARP board member Fernando Torres-Gil. “This Roybal Institute report underscores the need for our elected officials to consider what impact any proposed changes to the program will have on all Americans as they work to strengthen retirement security for future generations.”

The primer, “Impact of Social Security and Proposed Benefit Changes on the Latino Population,” is available online at: http://assets.aarp.org/www.aarp.org_/build/templates/issues/advocacy/socsec/usc_latino_ss_primer_vega.pdf

AARP also supported the development of Social Security primers that focused on African Americans and Asian Americans.

The report about African Americans is available online at: http://assets.aarp.org/www.aarp.org_/build/templates/issues/advocacy/socsec/SSPrimer02011.pdf

The report about Asian Americans is available online at: http://assets.aarp.org/www.aarp.org_/build/templates/issues/advocacy/socsec/APASocialSecurityPrimer.pdf

The University of Southern California (USC) Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging is dedicated to translational research and training that promotes and sustains optimal physical, mental, and social functioning of older persons from low-income and multiethnic backgrounds so they may age successfully in their communities.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world’s largest-circulation magazine with nearly 35 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP’s millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

SOURCE AARP

Social Security Benefits Remain a Vital Source of Retirement Income for Latinos