Testing the boundaries of universality: What’s mean? what’s not?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This article explores the relationship between recent policy reforms, targeting proposals, and a universal Social Security program. It explores principles that inform Social Security, concluding that treating benefits as taxable income and raising the aenormal age push at the boundaries of universality without violating the fundamental precepts of a social insurance program. Universal eligibility to Social Security is assessed as an essential feature of a public pension program and especially beneficial to low- and moderate-income populations. Introduction of a means test is assessed as potentially undermining political support for the program, the economic well-being of low-income elders, and retirement savings efforts. Greater targeting of benefits and financing is possible within the context of the existing Social Security program. Further targeting in Social Security and improvements in selective programs such as SSI do not contradict and may enhance a public retirement income strategy which is built upon social insurance principles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)736-742
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Means-testing
  • Retirement age
  • Social Security
  • Taxation of benefits
  • Universal programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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