By Callie Jones
Providing low-income older adults with counseling and other assistance is a passion of mine. It’s also what I do as a social worker when I’m not also interning at AARP Texas. I’ve come to realize there’s a lifeline for many older people, and it’s Social Security.
Social Security is what keeps food on the table for many of the clients I serve. The clients I’ve worked with struggle to make ends meet, and they count on Social Security to cover their basic expenses, including rent. And today, as America celebrates the 82 nd anniversary of Social Security today, I think it’s important to say that Social Security remain viable for future generations.
Ever since the Social Security Act became law in 1935, it has served nearly 250 million Americans. For over 80 years, Social Security has provided critical financial security for hard-working, middle-class Americans by providing retirement funds, disability, and survivor benefits. In Texas alone, Social Security provides benefits to almost 4 million people. It’s one of the most successful anti-poverty programs in our nation's history.
Social Security keeps 15 million seniors out of poverty every year, including almost 3 million Texans aged 65 or older. Two-thirds of adults age 65 and older depend on Social Security for the majority of their income. For many retired Americans, Social Security is the only check in the mail each month, with the average payment being $1,360. Without these benefits, a third of recipients would lose 90 percent of their income, causing many to be thrust into poverty.
While Social Security continues to keep many of the most vulnerable Americans financially intact, the program must continue to evolve to fit the growing needs of the average beneficiary. Fewer than 14 percent of workers today retire with a pension, and few have any substantial savings. And so, as I’ve learned with the clients I work with, it’s important that Social Security remain strong for years to come.
Callie Jones is an Austin-based AARP intern who is completing her master's degree in social work.