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New Approaches to Social Security Adequacy & Solvency in the 21st Century

Overview: the National Academy of Social Insurance and AARP hosted a day-long exploration of bold new ideas in Social Security policy. A diverse range of policy experts described and debated their innovative ideas, many of which have never before been discussed in a public forum. Ideas presented include those selected in AARP’s Policy Innovation Challenge as well as other ideas from retirement security experts.

Policy Innovation Challenge: Social Security Adequacy and Solvency

In 2016, AARP launched its Innovation Challenge to identify policy solutions to strengthen Social Security. Learn more about these solutions by visiting: 


Event Agenda


  • William J. Arnone, CEO, National Academy of Social Insurance

Session 1: Retirement Security in an Era of Increasing and Disparate Longevity

  • Anthony Webb, The New School for Social Research, “Catch-Up Contributions: A Voluntary, Equitable, and Affordable Solution to the Retirement Savings Crisis”
  • Olivia S. Mitchell, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, “Delayed Social Security Claiming: How to Enhance Economic Security and Potentially Enhance System Solvency”
  • Gary Koenig, Vice President, Financial Security, Public Policy Institute, AARP, “Supplemental Transition Accounts for Retirement”

ModeratorMark Miller, Retirement Columnist, Reuters

Session 2:  Improving Benefits for Low-Lifetime Earners

  • Pamela Herd​, Principal Investigator, Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, University of Wisconsin Madison, “A Targeted Minimum Benefit Plan (MBP): A New Proposal to Reduce Poverty among the Elderly”
  • Elizabeth Johns, Faculty Associate, Center on Aging, University of Maine, “A Revised Minimum Benefit Can Better Meet the Adequacy and Equity Standards in Social Security”
  • Kenneth Couch, University of Connecticut, “Adjust PIA Based on Lifetime Earnings and Life Expectancy Trend”

ModeratorJason Fichtner, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center at George Mason University 


Luncheon Keynote: Peter Diamond, Institute Professor Emeritus, MIT, “The Future of Social Security.”

Session 3: Providing retirement security to caregivers and to workers in a changing workforce

  • Christian Weller, Professor of Public Policy, McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston, “Expanding Qualifying Credit Options for Social Security Benefits”
  • Debra Whitman, EVP/Chief Public Policy Officer, AARP, “Add Pre-Retirement Education Benefits into Social Security”

Moderator: Kilolo Kijakazi, Institute Fellow, Urban Institute

Session 4: Ensuring Adequate Revenue for Social Security

  • Benjamin W. Veghte, Vice President for Policy, National Academy of Social Insurance, “Implications of Income Inequality for Social Security’s Contribution and Benefit Base” 
  • Ken Buffin, Director of Research, The Buffin Foundation, “Strengthening and Sustaining Social Security Finances Using New Automatic Adjustments”
  • Peter Diamond, Institute Professor Emeritus, MIT, “The Estate Tax as an Alternative Revenue Source”

Moderator: Kathryn Edwards, Associate Economist, RAND Corporation

Wrap Up

  • Debra Whitman, Executive Vice President and Chief Public Policy Officer, AARP