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Social Security And Individual Equity

Overview

The compulsory nature of social security makes it possible for income to be distributed within and across beneficiary cohorts. Focusing on the Federal Social Security system, encompassing OASDI and Medicare, this volume examines the equity and adequacy criteria that serve as standards for determining how payroll tax revenues are to be distributed. Social Security distributes cash benefits to retired and disabled workers in accordance with past taxable earnings, and the book describes and evaluates the procedures ...

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Overview

The compulsory nature of social security makes it possible for income to be distributed within and across beneficiary cohorts. Focusing on the Federal Social Security system, encompassing OASDI and Medicare, this volume examines the equity and adequacy criteria that serve as standards for determining how payroll tax revenues are to be distributed. Social Security distributes cash benefits to retired and disabled workers in accordance with past taxable earnings, and the book describes and evaluates the procedures for determining each worker's earnings-related benefit base. The benefit base serves as a standard of individual equity. Primary worker payments are determined by applying a cohort-specific benefit formula to the benefit base of each worker. The benefit formula includes a rate structure with a progressive tilt, resulting in a higher benefit-to-earnings ratio for workers with lower prior earnings. Other features of the benefit structure adjust benefits to allow for age at entitlement and presence of eligible dependents or survivors. This book examines all of these features from an individual equity perspective.

The authors also use equity considerations to provide a framework for examining the disability determination process and the current procedure for financing the Hospital Insurance and Supplementary Medical Insurance components of Medicare. In conclusion, the authors contrast the existing system with alternatives that would conform more closely with an actuarial standard. They also conclude with a discussion of the effects of the impending OASI trust fund surplus on successive generations of beneficiaries.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

CHARLES W. MEYER is professor of economics at Iowa State University.

NANCY WOLFF is assistant professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Community Health at Rutgers University.

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Table of Contents

Figures and Tables
Acknowledgments
1 Principles of Social Insurance 1
2 Social Security: Scope, Distributional Impact, and Long-Term Financing 11
3 An Earnings-Based Standard of Individual Equity 31
4 Extending Social Adequacy 63
5 Disability Insurance and Individual Equity 79
6 Individual and Social Fairness of the Medicare Program 107
7 Social Security and Individual Equity: A Summing Up 167
References 179
Index 191
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