More than 60 million retired and disabled people are receiving Social Security. It provides more than half the monthly income for nearly 78 percent of those people. And it has kept a third of those people out of poverty.
Without Social Security, 21.4 million more Americans would be poor, according to the latest available Census data (for 2011). Although most of those whom Social Security keeps out of poverty are elderly, nearly a third are under age 65, including 1.1 million children. [...]The Economic Policy Institute has more on the necessity of Social Security for the vast majority of Americans. Only the wealthy, EPI has found, can count on having enough income from private retirement accounts for financial security in old age.
Almost 90 percent of people aged 65 and older receive some of their family income from Social Security. Without Social Security benefits, 43.6 percent of elderly Americans would have incomes below the official poverty line, all else being equal; with Social Security benefits, only 8.7 percent do. These benefits lift some 14.5 million elderly Americans—including 8.7 million women—above the poverty line. [...]
Social Security is important for children and their families as well as for the elderly. About 6 million children under age 18 (8 percent of all U.S. children) lived in families that received income from Social Security in 2011, according to Census data. This figure includes children who received their own benefits as dependents of retired, disabled, or deceased workers, as well as those who lived with parents or relatives who received Social Security benefits. In all, Social Security lifts 1.1 million children out of poverty.
In 2010, households whose income was in the middle fifth percentile of incomes had, on average, only $34,981 in individual retirement savings, while households in the top fifth of incomes averaged $308,674. Other than high-income households, who receive most of the federal subsidies for IRAs and 401(k)s, virtually no one has enough savings to generate substantial retirement income. Social Security wealth and retirement income, on the other hand, are broadly shared.Social Security is essential. It has been for eight decades and will be even more so in the next few, as the nation lurches out of the Great Recession. It shouldn't be made a bargaining chip, it should be made a lure to try to make Republicans do the fiscally responsible thing.
It should be strengthened to last at least another 78 years.