Social Security: Distribution of Benefits and Taxes Relative to Earnings Level

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A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Under the current Social Security benefit formula, retired workers receive benefits that equal about 50 percent of pre-retirement earnings for a low-wage worker but only about 30 percent for a relatively high-wage worker. Factors other than earnings also influence the distribution of benefits, including the program's provisions for disabled workers, spouses, children, and survivors. Changes in the program over time also affect the distribution of benefits across generations. Social Security faces a long-term structural financing shortfall. Program changes to address that shortfall could alter the way ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. June 15, 2004.

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Description

A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Under the current Social Security benefit formula, retired workers receive benefits that equal about 50 percent of pre-retirement earnings for a low-wage worker but only about 30 percent for a relatively high-wage worker. Factors other than earnings also influence the distribution of benefits, including the program's provisions for disabled workers, spouses, children, and survivors. Changes in the program over time also affect the distribution of benefits across generations. Social Security faces a long-term structural financing shortfall. Program changes to address that shortfall could alter the way Social Security's benefits and revenues are distributed across the population and affect the income security of millions of Americans. To gain a better understanding of the distributional effects of potential program changes, the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging asked us to address (1) how to define and describe "progressivity," that is, the distribution of benefits and taxes with respect to earnings level, when assessing the current Social Security system or proposed changes to it; (2) what factors influence the distributional effects of the current Social Security program; and (3) what would be the distributional effects of various reform proposals, compared with alternative solvent baselines for the current system."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • June 15, 2004

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. Social Security: Distribution of Benefits and Taxes Relative to Earnings Level, report, June 15, 2004; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc299784/: accessed October 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.