Jasmine V. Tucker, National Academy of Social Insurance
This Thanksgiving, Americans across the country can be thankful for four critical programs that helped keep nearly 26 million people out of poverty in 2011, including three social insurance programs: Social Security, unemployment insurance (UI), and workers' compensation, and a related program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Millions of people struggling to make ends meet will continue to do so this holiday season, even as the sluggish recovery begins to speed up. Despite a steady—but slow—decline in the number of unemployed workers, October 2012 marked the 46thconsecutive month that the unemployment rate has been over 7.8 percent.  Additionally, more than one in seven people, including more than one in five children, lived in poverty in 2011.  But thanks to a few key programs, the number of Americans living in poverty is nearly 26 million less than it would have been without them.
Working together, Social Security, UI, workers' compensation, and SSI kept 25.7 million people out of poverty in 2011,  including:
Nearly 2.0 million children;
Nearly 8.8 million non-elderly adults; and
Nearly 15.0 million elderly adults aged 65+.
Social Security alone lifted more than 21.4 million people out of poverty in 2011, including:
More than 1.1 million children;
More than 5.8 million non-elderly adults; and
Nearly 14.5 million elderly adults aged 65+. Benefits lowered the elderly adult poverty rate from 44 percent to just nine percent.
UI alone lifted nearly 2.3 million people out of poverty in 2011, including:
More than 1.6 million non-elderly adults; and
74,000 elderly adults aged 65+.
Workers’ compensation alone lifted 114,000 people out of poverty in 2011, including:
32,000 children; and
76,000 non-elderly adults.
SSI alone lifted more than 2.0 million people out of poverty in 2011 , including:
More than 1.3 million non-elderly adults; and
368,000 elderly adults aged 65+.
To learn more about how these programs help millions of people and their families:
Watch a video on Social Security: Just the Facts on Finances, Benefits, and Public Opinion;
Read NASI’s new brief on SSI for disabled children; or
 NASI calculations based on U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement (2012) (using CPS Table Creator II), http://www.census.gov/cps/data/cpstablecreator.html. Individual program numbers do not equal total because some households needed more than one program to raise income above the poverty threshold.
 Note that this figure may underrepresent the number of individuals receiving SSI, because individuals who are interviewed for the Current Population Survey often do not report receiving SSI. For more information, see: Wiseman, Michael, and Nicholas, Joyce. “Elderly Poverty and Supplemental Security Income, 2002-2005.” Social Security Bulletin. Vol. 70, No. 2, 2010, 1-2, http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v70n2/v70n2p1.html.