In honor of the 75th anniversary of Social Security, Nancy Altman, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Pension Rights Center, and Eric Kingson, professor of social Work at Syracuse University of Social Work, created “Social Security Works,” a website dedicated to spreading the word about the need to preserve Social Security for the American people, and for generations to come. Their primary goals for the next round of Social Security legislation are that it:
- Protect and improve the economic security of disadvantaged and at-risk populations
- Safeguars the economic security of those dependent on Social Security, now or in the future
- Maintain Social Security as a vehicle of social justice
Social Security Works provides information and statistics on the success and necessity of Social Security and why it needs to be protected from deficit hawks and others who might seek to dismantle it. The following facts and statistics are from the Social Security Works website:
- Social Security has eradicated what once was a primary anxiety of a vast majority of workers: the terror of growing old with no support. It was created to provide workers with a foundation of economic support once they ceased to work, to help them maintain their standards of living and prevent them from falling into poverty .
- Social Security combines widespread protection across all income classes with provisions particularly beneficial to lower-income groups.
- Leaving aside Social Security income, nearly one of every two elderly people––46.8%––has income below the poverty line.
- By lifting 13 million seniors above the poverty line, Social Security reduces the elder poverty rate to 9.7%.
- Social Security is the primary source of life insurance and disability insurance protection for workers and their families.
- Without Social Security, more children would be living in poverty and the depth of their poverty would be much greater; of the children in families that receive Social Security, 42 percent would be poor based only on income other than Social Security.
- Social Security income raises 1.3 million children out of poverty and reduces the poverty rate to 23 percent.
- Without Social Security, 55 percent of the disabled and their families would live in poverty.
- Social Security payments, which are distributed to 9.3 million people with disabilities, their spouses and children, reduce the poverty rate to 18.5%.
- The provision of these benefits has alleviated workers’ fears of leaving themselves and their families destitute in the event of disability.
- The economic meltdown that we have just experienced has underscored the importance and soundness of Social Security. While the nation lost trillions of dollars of private pension wealth and home equity, Social Security has retained its value, because its benefits are guaranteed. Even before the recent meltdown, however, private pensions and private savings never provided adequate supplementation for most retirees.
- Social Security is particularly important to groups who have low lifetime incomes, fewer opportunities to earn pensions, and lower personal savings.
- Social Security provides 100% of income for 4 out of 10 African-Americans and four out of 10 Latinos aged 65 and older.
- Among beneficiaries aged 65 and older, Social Security is 90 percent or more of income for the majority of unmarried elders of color, including 54 percent of African Americans; 55 percent of Asian Americans; 61 percent of American Indians and Alaskan Natives, and 62 percent of Latinos.
- Social Security is also important to middle-class retirees and families. Social Security benefits allow active seniors to remain independent according to their health and according to their choices. Beneficiaries maintain their lifestyles, aging in place and living wherever they want. In promoting their own autonomy, Social Security beneficiaries enjoy their ties to their families, such as relationships with their children and grandchildren, on terms most beneficial to all generations.
Social Security works for families, Social Security works for America.