Four Innovative Proposals to Improve Retirement Security and Social Security’s Adequacy for Vulnerable Older Workers

Washington, DC, Dec. 13, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Academy of Social Insurance, in collaboration with AARP, engaged in a year-long effort to identify innovative strategies to address the income adequacy needs of older workers who must claim Social Security retirement benefits early due to ill health, an inability to continue to perform physically demanding jobs, or other factors. The Challenge yielded a package of four policy ideas that, together, begin to address problems associated with retirement insecurity in complementary ways:

  1. A New Bridge Benefit under Social Security, by Christian Weller, Rebecca Vallas, and Stephanie Lessing
  2. Social Security Early Commencement Benefits, by Elizabeth Bauer
  3. Creating a Federal Auto IRA and Enhancing Social Security Longevity Data, by Sarah Holmes Berk
  4. State Supplemental Social Security, by John Burbank and Aaron Keating

(Visit the Academy’s website for more information about the Challenge and the winning proposals.)

Most beneficiaries rely on Social Security benefits as their principal or only source of income in retirement. Under the current Social Security benefit structure, early claimants receive substantially reduced monthly benefits throughout their lifetimes.

“Not everyone can work longer either because of their health or because of the nature of their work. We need innovative policy solutions to help these people maintain their financial wellbeing as the retirement age is rising to 67,” said Debra Whitman, Chief Public Policy Officer at AARP.

The four winning proposals, each of which was awarded $20,000, were selected through a process of blind reviews by a panel of judges, with the complementary nature of the proposals a key consideration. Challenge judges also examined the proposals to ensure that they do not adversely impact the existing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) system and its recipients. (Learn more about the process.)

“These proposals reflect creative ideas to bolster retirement security for vulnerable older workers. We are particularly excited about how the strategies fit together and their potential to address some of the long-term financing issues facing this flagship federal social insurance program,” said William Arnone, Chief Executive Officer of the National Academy of Social Insurance. “The policy ideas put forth by Challenge participants, who came from a broad range of disciplines, will meaningfully improve quality of life for those who are no longer able to work, or can’t work full time, but are not eligible for SSDI.”

The views and recommendations in the winning proposals are those of the authors and do not represent an official position of the National Academy of Social Insurance, AARP, or their funders.

For more information, please contact: Elaine Weiss, Lead Policy Analyst, Income Security, at (202) 243-7280 or at



About the National Academy of Social Insurance

Since the Academy was founded in 1986, it has provided rigorous inquiry and insights into the functioning of our nation’s social insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation. Now comprised of over 1,000 of the nation’s top experts in social insurance and related policies and programs, the Academy studies how social insurance can continue to meet the changing needs of American families, employees, and employers. The Academy also looks at new frontiers for social insurance, including areas of uninsured or underinsured economic risks and related policies. To learn more about the Academy’s work, please visit, or follow @socialinsurance on Twitter. 


About AARP

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.



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