Social Security: America's Anti-Poverty Tool

Did you know that Social Security is America’s single most important anti-poverty tool?

According to a study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 21,400,000 Americans are lifted out of poverty because of Social Security, including more than 1.1 million children under the age of 18 and another 5.8 million adults ages 18-64. Social Security doesn’t just protect you in retirement; for families in which a parent becomes disabled or dies, the program can ensure financial stability.

Of course, 14.5 million adults age 65 and older count on Social Security to keep them out of poverty, too. They worked hard for these benefits. As our colleague Josh Rosenblum recently wrote, “Americans pay for Social Security and Medicare through our payroll taxes. We earn them.”

Here in California, Social Security’s importance cannot be overstated. Nearly 1 out of every 4 Californians live in poverty, in great part due to our high cost of living. Yet 1,246,000 Californians are kept out of poverty by Social Security, depending on the program to help them pay for basic needs like food and shelter. For typical older Californians, Social Security makes up 52% of their individual income; for low- and middle-income seniors, that figure rises to 73%.

You can stay informed about the future of Social Security and add your voice to the discussion by being a part of AARP’s national discussion, You’ve Earned a Say. You can also review frequently asked questions about the program and use our Social Security calculator to determine when you should claim your benefits.

Visit the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for a state-by-state breakdown of the number of seniors kept out of poverty because of Social Security. To keep up to date on how you can help keep Social Security strong, sign up for our state email and join us on Facebook and Twitter.