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Social Security Lifts 1.3 Million Children Out of Poverty

Retirement program brings life and disability insurance to young families

For Release
: February 26, 2008
Contact: Jill Braunstein (202) 452-8097

WASHINGTON, DC – While Social Security is best known as a retirement program, it is also irreplaceable life and disability insurance for young families, according to a new report released today by the non-partisan National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI).

About 6.5 million children under 18 – or nearly 9 percent of all U.S. children – received part of their family income from Social Security in 2005. They include 3.1 million children who themselves receive benefits as dependents of a deceased, disabled, or retired parent, and an estimated 3.4 million other children who do not themselves receive Social Security, but live with relatives who do.

“As policymakers consider ways to balance Social Security’s long-term finances through benefit cuts, tax increases, or both, many people forget that children and their advocates have an important stake in the policy debate,” said Joni Lavery, co-author of the report and Research Associate at NASI.

Social Security often makes the difference in lifting children out of poverty. Fully 1.3 million children were lifted out of poverty by Social Security benefits. Moreover, Social Security reduced the depths of poverty felt by another 1.5 million children and their families.

Although Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) is probably the best-known income support program for poor children, it helps fewer children than does Social Security. In fact, since 1995, the number of children supported by Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) or TANF fell from 9.2 million to 3.8 million in fiscal year 2005. The 6.5 million children who get part of their family income from Social Security outnumber those receiving TANF.

For more information or a PDF of the full report, Children’s Stake in Social Security, visit the NASI website at www.nasi.org. For a hardcopy, contact Joni Lavery at jlavery@nasi.org. The research was made possible by funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The National Academy of Social Insurance is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization made up of the nation's leading experts on social insurance. Its mission is to promote understanding and informed policymaking on social insurance and related programs through research, public education, training, and the open exchange of ideas.