Friday, September 02, 2005

Equus Mortuus 3

Hyman continues his series of misleading statements on Social Security, this time focusing on how the system discriminates against women.

As with his previous comments about race, Hyman is couching his argument in the language of political correctness and inclusion, but in doing this, he is twisting the facts to suit his particular political agenda.

The good folks at Media Matters for America have done wonderful work in
exposing Hyman’s faulty reasoning and misleading rhetoric in his claims about Social Security not being equitable to women and two-career families. I urge you to take a look at their dissection of Hyman’s statements; they include helpful quotations and links to the Social Security Administration itself, so that you can get the truth straight from the horse’s mouth (to continue our equine motif).

Briefly, here are the problems with Hyman’s assertions.

Hyman Phact #5:

Social Security discriminates against two-career couples. In
spite of paying into the system for a lifetime, both spouses cannot collect full
benefits. Most often women - typically, the lower income earner do not collect
their full benefits. They share their husband's benefits. As far as Social
Security is concerned, the working spouse would have been better off not working
and instead just collected spousal benefits.

A high-income single earner couple could receive higher
benefits than a two income earning couple even if their combined income was the
exact same as the high-income single earner couple. This isn't

Real Fact: As Media Matters notes, the Social Security Administration calculates benefits for each individual independently. Married individuals both receive their own benefits. If the benefits paid to an individual are less than half of those that are due to their spouse, they also get a spousal benefit that raises their total benefits to half of what their spouse would receive. This means that if a woman never worked and therefore never contributed to Social Security, she would still be eligible to receive half of her husband’s benefits should he die. Hyman even knows this himself, because it is only through these benefits that he can say that a high-income single earner couple could receive higher benefits than a two income earning couple.

Hyman Phact #6:
If you worked for less than ten years, you get nothing. So if you are a woman,
who gave up a career in order to raise a family, you get diddlysquat.

Real Fact: As we just saw, those whose Social Security benefits would be less than half of their spouse are entitled to benefits that equal one-half of what their partner is owed. This is true even for those who never contributed a dime into Social Security. A woman whose husband dies and who devoted herself to raising a family rather than working at a job that required her to pay into Social Security would get half of the benefits owed to her husband.

Not exactly diddlysquat, eh?

And those are the Factual Counterpoints.

Hyman Index: 1.94

For more details on this, go to the aforementioned
Media Matters for America piece. You might also take a look at this myth/reality comparison about Social Security and women from Career Journal (which is sponsored by the Wall Street Journal).


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