September 22nd, 2011 | Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …
By Mary Forsberg
Social Security is an American mainstay, as much a part of our culture as baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. Established in 1935, it now provides benefits to over 50 million people, about one in every six U. S. citizens. While three-quarters of those receiving benefits are retirees or elderly widow(er)s, 19 percent receive disability insurance payments and 4 percent receive benefits as minor children of parents who have died.
Social Security provides a guaranteed, progressive benefit that keeps with increases in the cost of living. By dollars paid, the U. S. Social Security program is said to be the largest government program in the world. It provides a foundation of retirement protection for nearly every American and its benefits are not means-tested. The near universal participation and the absence of means-testing make Social Security much less expensive (its administrative costs amount to just 0.9 percent of annual benefits) to administer than private retirement annuities.
Debate in Washington about how to reduce the growing federal deficit often turns to reducing social security eligibility and /or benefits. A recent report from Social Security Works and the Strengthen Social Security campaign supports the importance of Social Security to families, communities and state and local economies.
Did you know in New Jersey:
• Social Security provides benefits to more than 1.4 million people.
• Residents receive Social Security benefits totaling nearly $20 million a year
• The median benefit received by a retired worker is about $15,500 a year.
• Social Security is the most important source of income for the 171,400 children living in “grandfamilies,” households headed by a grandparent or other relative.
• Social Security provides valuable disability and life insurance protection for most workers. Nationwide, an estimated 3 of 10 working-aged men and 1 of 4 working-aged women will become severely disabled before reaching retirement age.
• A 30-year-old-worker who earns about $30,000 a year and has a spouse and two young children, receives Social Security insurance protection equal to private disability and life insurance policies worth $465,000 and $476,000 respectively.
Social security has been one of the most important public programs for working family in America since the great depression and clearly provides a measure of security for the elderly, the orphaned and the disabled.