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Deficit reduction may make women poorer

June 24, 2011 at 11:51 PM

WASHINGTON, June 24 (UPI) -- The burden of U.S. deficit reduction should not fall on the backs of one of the country's most vulnerable groups -- elderly women -- an advocacy group says.

A report by the National Women's Law Center says various deficit-reduction plans, including the deficit talks convened by Vice President Joe Biden, call for switching Social Security's cost of living adjustment to a chained Consumer Price Index.

"This proposal is a stealth attack on the economic security of older women," Joan Entmacher of National Women's Law Center in Washington said in a statement. "That is a shameful way to solve our nation's deficit problem."

Older women are already more economically vulnerable than older men -- they often spend fewer years in the workforce because they take care children, the elderly and spouses -- and these cuts would leave many of them unable to meet basic needs, Entmacher said.

For example, for a woman who gets a benefit of $1,100 at age 65 -- the median monthly benefit of all single women 65 and older -- replacing the current COLA with the chained CPI would mean $56 less per month and $672 less per year at age 80, the report said.

"That may not sound like a big cut to some members of Congress -- but it translates to a loss of more than a week's worth of food per month or 13 weeks of food in a year," Entmacher said in a statement. "At age 90, that would mean $87 less per month and more than $1,000 less that year so a woman with an initial benefit of $1,100 a month will lose more than $6,300 by age 80 and more than $15,000 by age 90."

The report is at: www.nwlc.org/resource/cutting-social-security-cola-changing-way-inflation-calculated-would-especially-hurt-women.

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