Overview: Social Security

While most often thought of as a retirement program, Social Security provides economic security to everyone who works. From physicians to nursing home attendants, CEOs to janitors, college professors to day care teacher, Social Security protects the unlucky as well as the fortunate.

One-third of Social Security recipients are disabled workers and their family members or survivors of deceased workers. In fact, more children receive Social Security benefits than Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or welfare. Recipients with dependent children or spouses receive additional benefits.

Social Security benefits are progressive, providing higher incomes to those who need it the most, but it never makes anyone rich. Those who make less while working receive smaller monthly benefits, but the lowest earning workers receive a benefit equal to about 50% of their average pay, while the highest earners receive about 25%. Benefits are adjusted annually for inflation regardless of economic ups and downs. They are guaranteed for life for retirees and their surviving spouses no matter how long they live.

Fortunately, Americans have largely ignored misguided calls to privatize Social Security – a move that would have been disastrous in our current economic climate. Social Security is far too important to trust to the constant ups and downs of the stock market. Our system is healthy; with a few small adjustments, Social Security can easily serve the needs of future Americans for generations to come.

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