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Iowa women call Social Security 'critical'

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Mark Moran

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(Iowa News Service) New research released by AARP Iowa shows how important Social Security benefits are to people who receive them - and the numbers reveal women are far more likely to list those benefits as critical.

About 700,000 Iowans receive Social Security benefits, and 55 percent are women.

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AARP Iowa State Director Brad Anderson said he dug into the data, to find out why women see this as an important issue in their lives - in far greater numbers than men.

He said it's because women tend to have far smaller Social Security checks - due to factors like receiving lower wages than men, and taking on unpaid family care-giving responsibilities during their lives.

"In addition to that, women have fewer resources of retirement income than men," said Anderson. "And so, what that means is, men can rely more on stocks and bonds and pensions - whereas women really rely more heavily on Social Security."

Anderson and other advocates are calling on Congress to address the dwindling Social Security Trust Fund, which could be forced to cut benefits by 2035 unless Congress acts to address the funding shortfall.

In addition to earning less and qualifying for fewer benefits, women also typically live longer than men - which, Anderson says, means they have to stretch their Social Security income even further.

"When you put it all together," said Anderson, "it makes a lot of sense that women find Social Security and the strength of Social Security an extremely important issue, when it comes to the polls that we've seen."

AARP Iowa released its findings on the heels of a national report on the financial health of Medicare and Social Security.