This August, Social Security turns 78. What began as a social insurance program designed to pay retired workers a continuing income after retirement is now America’s single most anti-poverty tool.
Social Security isn’t a welfare program, it’s an earned benefit. We all pay into Social Security during our working years, through a payroll tax, with the expectation those benefits will be there when we need them. And for many, Social Security is a financial safety net.
More than 21 million Americans are lifted out of poverty because of Social Security, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That includes 40,000 older South Dakotans. That monthly check –an average $1,100 in South Dakota – makes up 50% or more of the retirement income for those 65 and older who receive the benefit. For 1 in 5 older South Dakotans, it makes up 90% or more of their retirement income.
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. Right here in South Dakota, more than 156,000 people receive Social Security benefits, including more than 7,000 children under the age of 18, and 32,000 individuals between the ages of 18 and 64.
What does Social Security mean to you? Add your voice to the discussion by being a part of AARP’s national conversation, You’ve Earned a Say. You can weigh in on current proposals which may impact benefits for current and future recipients. 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, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to hear real stories, from real South Dakotans about the important role Social Security plays in their lives.