While Social Security provides a foundation of economic security for people at all income levels, new research from the Social Security Administration (SSA) illustrates its importance for those in the middle. Among beneficiaries over age 65:
Workers earn Social Security benefits by making payroll tax contributions throughout their careers. While benefits are modest, they are a key source of financial security, especially for the elderly. Without Social Security benefits, 41 percent of elderly Americans would have incomes below the official poverty line, all else being equal. With Social Security, only 9 percent do. Given the program’s powerful anti-poverty impact, cuts in Social Security benefits could significantly raise the elderly poverty rate, depending on their design.
Millions of workers and their families count on Social Security when they retire, become disabled, or die and leave dependents behind. That’s one reason why the large majority of Americans say they don’t mind paying for Social Security — they value it for themselves, their families, and the many others who rely on it.