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For Immediate Release
December 16, 2010

Contact: Todd Kluss
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(202) 587-2839

Brief Clarifies Social Security’s Value for Women

Without Social Security, research indicates that about half of women age 65 and older would be living in poverty. With the program in place, the poverty rate for women falls to 12 percent. These facts — paired with recommended future courses of action — are presented in the latest installment of the Public Policy & Aging Research Brief series from the National Academy on an Aging Society, the public policy branch of The Gerontological Society of America (GSA).

The new publication, “For Millions of Older Women, Social Security Is a Lifeline,” was funded by grant support from The Retirement Research Foundation and represents a current synthesis of knowledge about Social Security’s long-term impact on women’s financial security.

“Older women — especially those who are not married — rely heavily on Social Security, as this research brief makes clear,” said GSA Pubic Policy Committee Chair Sara Rix, PhD. “Relatively modest changes to restore solvency to the Social Security system would ensure that these women and the generations that follow them will be able to depend on their Social Security benefits well into the future.”

In recent years, Social Security’s financial position has caught the interest of the public, spurred on by the mounting U.S. debt burden, the recession of the early 21st century, and the large demographic shifts that have been underway for several decades.

The new brief demonstrates that, under the current system, some women fare better than others. Virginia P. Reno of the National Academy of Social Insurance introduces readers to Social Security finances and the adequacy of benefits going forward. Next, Joan Entmacher of the National Women’s Law Center makes the argument that improving Social Security widow benefits is a feasible and important strategy for reducing poverty. Finally, in a piece that challenges some commonly held assumptions, Rix addresses the needs of caregivers.

The brief is the third and final component of a grant partnership between GSA and the Retirement Research Foundation. The first was a pre-conference workshop, “Women’s Health and Retirement Security: How Far We Have Come and Where We Need To Go,” organized by GSA at its 2008 Annual Scientific Meeting. The second was a special issue of The National Academy on an Aging Society’s quarterly Public Policy & Aging Report (Volume 19, Number 2), which examined findings from the pre-conference workshop.

“For Millions of Older Women, Social Security Is a Lifeline” can be purchased from www.geron.org/bookstore. Reporters may request electronic review copies.

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The National Academy on an Aging Society is the policy institute of The Gerontological Society of America, the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,200+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public.

Click here for a printable PDF version of this press release.

Mildred M. Seltzer Distinguished Service Recognition

Presented to C. Joanne Grabinski, PhD, Eastern Michigan University, and Mary Alice Wolf, PhD, Saint Joseph University.

This award honors colleagues who are near retirement or recently retired. Recipients are individuals who have been actively involved in AGHE through service on committees, as elected officers, and/or have provided leadership in one of AGHE’s grant-funded projects.

Administrative Leadership Award

Presented to Tammy M. Bray, PhD, Oregon State University

This award honors administrators on AGHE member campuses who have made exceptional efforts in support of gerontology or geriatrics education.

David A. Peterson Gerontology & Geriatrics Education Best Paper of the Volume Award

Presented to Nina M. Silverstein, PhD, University of Massachusetts Boston; Elizabeth Johns, MS, University of Massachusetts Boston; and Judith A. Griffin, MA, MS, University of Massachusetts Boston, for the article “Students Explore Livable Communities.” Honorable mention is given to Emily J. Robbins, MS, Miami University; Jennifer M. Kinney, PhD, Miami University; and Cary S. Kart, PhD, Miami University, for the article “Promoting Active Engagement in Health Research: Lessons Learned from an Undergraduate Gerontology Capstone Course.”

The purpose of this award is to recognize excellence in scholarship in academic gerontology in AGHE’s official journal, Gerontology & Geriatrics Education.

Graduate Student Paper Award

Presented to Deborah Gray, MBA, University of Massachusetts Boston, for the paper “Weight and Wealth: The Relationship between Obesity and Net Worth for Pre-Retirement Age Men and Women.”

This award acknowledges excellence in scholarly work conducted by an AGHE Annual Meeting student attendee.

Book Award for Best Children’s Literature on Aging

Presented to Caitlin Dale Nicholson and Leona Morinn-Nelson for “Niwechihaw/I help” in the primary reader (pre-K to 2nd grade) category, and Ann Grifalconi and Jerry Pickney for “Ain’t Nobody A Stranger to Me” in the elementary reader (3rd to 5th grade) category.

This award recognizes portrayals of meaningful aging in children’s literature.