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Here's What Poverty Would Look Like If Social Security Didn't Exist

Posted by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 4:34 PM
  • 26 Replies


The nation’s poverty crisis would be a lot worse if it wasn’t for safety net programs -- particularly Social Security, a new analysis finds.

If Social Security didn’t exist, about 25 million more Americans would be in poverty, according to an analysis of 2011 Census data from the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. That would push one measure of the poverty rate up from 16.1 percent to 24.4 percent, as the chart below illustrates.

social security poverty

"Even though there are a lot of people hurting right now -- with the unemployment rate still elevated and the labor market weak -- government programs are still providing substantial help to many Americans," Elise Gould, the author of the analysis told The Huffington Post.

The data is based on an alternate poverty threshold called the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes into account factors like how much Americans receive from government benefit programs.

The findings come as the future of Social Security is in jeopardy. President Barack Obama proposed cuts to the program in his 2014 budget, much to the chagrin of some of his liberal supporters. The trust fund that supports the program is projected to run out of money by 2033 if Congress does nothing to prevent this from happening.

Meanwhile, the population that relies most heavily on Social Security is increasingly struggling to get by. One in seven seniors live in poverty, according to the Census Bureau. In addition, 4.8 million Americans over 60 are food insecure. That number has more than doubled since 2001.

by on Jul. 31, 2013 at 4:34 PM
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Replies (1-10):
Naturewoman4
by Silver Member on Aug. 1, 2013 at 12:32 AM
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Well, I don't think there's any way that Obama will be able to cut Soc. Sec.  Because, that money belongs to Seniors and not the Gov.  They put into this plan over their lifetime of working.  So, the Gov. is going to have to figure out how to put that money back into Soc. Sec., that they stole, to pay for the wars we're in. The Baby Boombers are all starting to retire soon, so the Gov. better get ready.  We all know that Soc. Sec. won't be there for those that are younger, but hopefully they will be able to invest their money differently. 

kailu1835
by Gold Member on Aug. 1, 2013 at 12:45 AM
2 moms liked this
Or they wouldn't be since social security is for the elderly and in the absence of social security people would have been forced to actually consider the future and put money away on their own. And they would have gotten everything they put away, as opposed to social security which only pays out a fraction of what each person actually puts in, so the elderly would be better off.
4kidz916
by Gold Member on Aug. 1, 2013 at 8:32 AM
1 mom liked this

I'm not against social security but not having a safety net makes people more apt to think about taking care of themselves.  Plus in a society with no safety net, I would like to think that people would step up and help each other out.  

JoJoBean8
by Silver Member on Aug. 1, 2013 at 9:09 AM
My parents get social security. They aren't in poverty. They also saved for retirement.
lylalane7275
by Silver Member on Aug. 1, 2013 at 9:46 AM
1 mom liked this

You mean that personal responsibility thing? 

Yeah, my parents did the same thing, paid off their house saved their money. 


Quoting JoJoBean8:

My parents get social security. They aren't in poverty. They also saved for retirement.



lancet98
by Bronze Member on Aug. 1, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Years ago John Steinbeck wrote a book called 'Of Mice and Men'.

One of the things that was brought out in the book, was the large number of disabled older men who had physical disabilities (mostly due to injuries gotten on the job), who were desperate for a place to live, a job and some food.   

In fact, before SS, this was a common problem.   Men who had worked all their lives, and once they got to where they couldn't work any more, had no where to live, couldn't work, this was one of the major reasons SS was started - due to the elderly.

143myboys9496
by Gold Member on Aug. 1, 2013 at 10:23 AM
2 moms liked this

The biggest problem with SS is that the number of people retiring grossly outnumber the working people contributing. So what makes it worse is when unemployment goes up, there are even less contributing.

BTW, didn't Barry promise jobs and to lower unemployment?

kailu1835
by Gold Member on Aug. 1, 2013 at 8:19 PM
1 mom liked this
You mean because of a total lack of foresight? People should fail or succeed on their own merits.

Quoting lancet98:

Years ago John Steinbeck wrote a book called 'Of Mice and Men'.

One of the things that was brought out in the book, was the large number of disabled older men who had physical disabilities (mostly due to injuries gotten on the job), who were desperate for a place to live, a job and some food.   

In fact, before SS, this was a common problem.   Men who had worked all their lives, and once they got to where they couldn't work any more, had no where to live, couldn't work, this was one of the major reasons SS was started - due to the elderly.

lancet98
by Bronze Member on Aug. 1, 2013 at 8:46 PM


I don't agree with you.   This wasn't about total lack of foresight.   The novel was during the Great Depression and many people lost everything - savings, home, everything, and not through a lack of foresight.

 In the cases I mentioned from the novel, those were really elderly men who were willing to work despite disability.   They were disabled on the job, those were dangerous jobs(most jobs were dangerous then), and there were many injuries.   They had lost an arm or leg, were very elderly, were STILL willing to work, but no one would give them a job.

I am in favor of Social Security for the elderly today as well.   They paid into the fund all their lives, it's their money in the first place, and they are entitled to get that money back.

I am in favor of other types of support programs as well, such as SSI and SSDI, for disabled people who legitimately  qualify(truly are unable to work). 

Quoting kailu1835:

You mean because of a total lack of foresight? People should fail or succeed on their own merits.

Quoting lancet98:

Years ago John Steinbeck wrote a book called 'Of Mice and Men'.

One of the things that was brought out in the book, was the large number of disabled older men who had physical disabilities (mostly due to injuries gotten on the job), who were desperate for a place to live, a job and some food.   

In fact, before SS, this was a common problem.   Men who had worked all their lives, and once they got to where they couldn't work any more, had no where to live, couldn't work, this was one of the major reasons SS was started - due to the elderly.



kailu1835
by Gold Member on Aug. 1, 2013 at 8:54 PM
1 mom liked this
The Great Depression wouldn't have happened if not for Governmental interference. People lost everything because their government royally screwed them, and ss would never have been put in place.

Quoting lancet98:


I don't agree with you.   This wasn't about total lack of foresight.   The novel was during the Great Depression and many people lost everything - savings, home, everything, and not through a lack of foresight.

 In the cases I mentioned from the novel, those were really elderly men who were willing to work despite disability.   They were disabled on the job, those were dangerous jobs(most jobs were dangerous then), and there were many injuries.   They had lost an arm or leg, were very elderly, were STILL willing to work, but no one would give them a job.

I am in favor of Social Security for the elderly today as well.   They paid into the fund all their lives, it's their money in the first place, and they are entitled to get that money back.

I am in favor of other types of support programs as well, such as SSI and SSDI, for disabled people who legitimately  qualify(truly are unable to work). 


Quoting kailu1835:

You mean because of a total lack of foresight? People should fail or succeed on their own merits.



Quoting lancet98:

Years ago John Steinbeck wrote a book called 'Of Mice and Men'.

One of the things that was brought out in the book, was the large number of disabled older men who had physical disabilities (mostly due to injuries gotten on the job), who were desperate for a place to live, a job and some food.   

In fact, before SS, this was a common problem.   Men who had worked all their lives, and once they got to where they couldn't work any more, had no where to live, couldn't work, this was one of the major reasons SS was started - due to the elderly.




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