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In order to fight poverty, one of the easiest and most effective things we can do is to expand our Social Security system. Social Security lifted 22 million Americans out of poverty in 2012, including one million children. Without Social Security, 44.1 percent of all Americans over the age of 65 would be living in poverty; with Social Security that rate is 8.9 percent.
Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) benefits nearly nine million Americans with disabilities and provides 75 percent or more of income for nearly six in 10 non-institutionalized beneficiaries, keeping millions of Americans with disabilities out of poverty. Nonetheless, one in five DI beneficiaries remains in poverty.
And Social Security is the nation’s largest and most generous children’s program. Nearly 10 million children either receive benefits directly as survivors of a deceased parent, or live in households where all or part of the income of the household comes from Social Security.
Social Security does all of this with relatively modest benefits — in 2013 the average individual benefit was $14,006. That is why Americans overwhelmingly believe that benefits should be expanded, and we should pay for it by asking millionaires and billionaires to pay the same rate into Social Security as everyone else, which is currently not the case.
Social Security works — we pay into it during our working lives and it is there for us when we need it. Now is the time to expand it, not to reduce benefits as too many folks in Washington are now proposing. You can read our specific plan to do just that in our new book, Social Security Works!: Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All.
The views expressed in this post are the author’s alone, and presented here to offer a variety of perspectives to our readers.