Whose Security? What Social Security Means to Children and Families

Cauthen, Nancy K.

Despite the fact that Social Security provides more benefits to children than any other social program, recent debates about Social Security have ignored our nation's youngest citizens. Over 5 million children in the United States benefit from Social Security, either directly as beneficiaries or indirectly as members of households that receive a monthly Social Security check. Social Security is not just a retirement program. It is also a family insurance program for workers, their spouses, and their children. Social Security provides income support to disabled workers and their families, as well as to the survivors of workers who die. Nearly a third of Social Security beneficiaries receive support through the survivor and disability components of the program. These insurance protections have kept many middle- and low-income families from falling into poverty because of a parent's death or disability. This policy brief provides basic information about Social Security and describes the vital protections the program offers to workers and their families. It also poses questions that policymakers should consider as the debate over Social Security continues.

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National Center for Children in Poverty
National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2010