Modernizing Social Security: Minimum Benefits

IB#19-2

The brief’s key findings are:

  • Social Security’s minimum benefit for retirees with very low career earnings does not prevent poverty and is withering away due to a design flaw.
  • A broad consensus exists for enhancing this benefit to at least keep full-time, full-career workers out of poverty.
  • Reform proposals, though, do differ over the extent to which part-time workers and those with shorter careers should also be eligible for a minimum benefit.
  • Overall, any improved minimum benefit would reduce retiree poverty, and its cost could be offset by reducing benefits somewhat for higher earners.