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Position of the Reform Movement on Social Security

The Reform Jewish Movement is strongly committed to helping America's elderly and poor and places an emphasis on the necessity of the social safety net. At the 1999 Union Biennial, the general assembly passed a Resolution on Social Security calling for the preservation of Social Security without any move toward privatization of the system. In 1995, the Union for Reform Judaism and Central Conference of American Rabbis passed a "Statement on Our Commitment to America's Poor" (1995) resolving to "call upon the United States government to maintain its responsibility to ensure an adequate, federally guaranteed safety net to protect our nation's most vulnerable populations."

In April 1999, the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism passed a resolution outlining fundamental principles with which any plan for changing Social Security must be consistent. It resolved to "advocate for a Social Security System that incorporates the following principles:

  1. Social Security must remain a social insurance program. Its primary role should continue to be providing for the elderly, widows, widowers, orphans, and people with disabilities. This role must be fulfilled by the federal government.
  2. Social Security must continue to provide disability and survivor insurance as well as retirement benefits.
  3. Social Security benefits should be portable and guaranteed, should provide a decent income, and should keep up with inflation. Workers and their families must have a program they know they can count on in old age or in case of disability or the death of a working family member.
  4. Private accounts should not be substituted for Social Security's defined benefits, in whole or in part.
  5. Beneficiaries who earned higher wages during their working years should continue to receive benefits related to their earnings history, but the progressive nature of the program — replacing a larger share of low-income workers' past earnings as a protection against poverty — should be maintained.
  6. The impact of any Social Security change should not fall disproportionately on women, minorities, or low-income people. Basic benefit protections for women — many of whom have lower lifetime earnings and more time away from the workforce because of care giving for children, parents, or spouses — should be preserved and strengthened.
  7. Any change in the funding of Social Security must not divert funds from other vital social programs."

Other Resolutions

Resolution on Social Security (1974)
Resolution on Social Security (Legislation) (1974)
Resolution on Social Security (1999)
Resolution on Social Security (2005)