Turn on the news any given day and you’re almost guaranteed to hear about how the government is dealing with some sort of crisis with the budget. Either there’s not enough money or we’re spending too much money or (far more likely in recent years) the two parties simply refuse to compromise to make anything happen. But what really bothers me is when they attack Social Security and Disability, saying that it needs to be completely overhauled or reformed or fear-mongering with tales of the program running out of money.
Want the truth? Well, as luck would have it the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities put together a list of the top ten facts about Social Security at the end of 2012 to clear up misinformation, and right now seems like a good time to bring them up again.
- Social Security helps more than just retirees. It’s a retirement program, life insurance policy, and disability insurance all rolled into one. Across the country, Social Security benefits help 56 million Americans – about one out of every six people.
- Social Security helps those who need it and keeps up with the times. If you make more, you’ll get more back in benefits, but those with lower wages get a higher percentage of their salary. Benefits also go up as the cost of living goes up.
- Social Security has a higher payout per dollar than private pensions. Why? Because it’s universal, which makes it incredibly simple to administer. Costs are less than 1 percent annually – way better than private annuities.
- Benefits are modest. Anyone complaining that people on Social Security get too much should do more research. Average annual benefits are $14,800, or 41 percent of what people earned while working.
- Social Security helps kids. Six million children live in families where at least one person receives Social Security benefits. In 2011, those benefits helped more than a million of them get above the poverty line.
- It keeps the elderly out of poverty. Without Social Security, almost half of the senior citizens in the US would be living in poverty.
- Social Security benefits are the majority of most elderly beneficiaries’ income. Two-thirds of seniors get the majority of their income from Social Security, and one third get 90% of their money from benefits.
- It helps minorities. Social Security benefits represent 90% of the income for 42% of Asian Americans, 49% of African Americans, and 55% of Hispanics.
- And women. Women make up 56% of beneficiaries over 62 and 67% age 85 and older.
- Social Security has plenty of money. Despite many fear-mongers arguing that Social Security will be out of money in 2016, the truth is that there’s money until 2033.
These are only the highlights of the facts. If you want to read the full paper, head here. You can also get an overview of the Social Security Disability process by reading our free eBook, and keep up with the latest changes in the law by following our blog.