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Social Security and Communities of Color

Christian E. Weller and Farah Ahmad explore how improving economic and health outcomes for communities of color has the potential to help combat Social Security’s projected shortfall.

Part of a Series

idea light bulbSocial Security is the bedrock of American families’ economic security, offering them a guarantee of a basic universal retirement income as long as they live. Social Security Disability Insurance fills part of the income void when workers become disabled and must continue to pay their bills even though they cannot work. Similarly, Social Security covers part of a household’s living expenses when its primary breadwinner dies prematurely. This gives families tremendous peace of mind when their primary income source disappears.

Social Security will pay promised benefits for decades to come, but it faces a long-term financial challenge: By 2033, promised benefit payments are expected to exceed Social Security’s income from payroll taxes and from its trust funds. Thankfully, there are solutions to combat this shortfall.

One approach is to raise the living standards of working-age families in communities of color. Shrinking racial and ethnic gaps in economic and health outcomes can ultimately improve Social Security’s long-term finances and increase the economic security of both struggling communities of color and middle-class non-Hispanic whites. This efficiently achieves multiple policy goals at once, creating a win-win situation.

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