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Who Benefits from Social Security?

Of the almost 44 million people who currently collect benefits under Social Security, only 27 million are retired workers. It also includes 6 million dependent spouses and children, 7 million survivors of deceased workers, and 4 million disabled workers.

Of the almost 44 million people who currently collect benefits under Social Security, only 27 million are retired workers. The beneficiary rolls also include 6 million dependent spouses and children, 7 million survivors of deceased workers, and 4 million disabled workers.

But the number of people who benefit from Social Security far exceeds the number who receive checks:

  • Adult offspring of retirees benefit because they can depend on Social Security to provide a basic income to their parents. When they don’t have to provide for Mom and Dad, more of the family’s resources can be focused on raising children and other needs.

  • Taxpayers benefit because Social Security is the nation’s top poverty fighter, keeping twice as many people out of poverty as all income-tested programs combined. Without Social Security, nearly half of all seniors would be poor, instead of the current 12 percent, and government assistance programs would need more resources and require higher taxes.

  • The economy benefits because Social Security pays out more than $367 billion in benefits annually, which beneficiaries use to pay for rent, clothing and food. This is particularly helpful in recessions, when fewer Americans are drawing paychecks. The fact that Social Security beneficiaries are still getting their checks helps stabilize the economy, keeping businesses open and more people employed.

  • American values benefit because Social Security is a key way in which our society shows we care for our families and for our neighbors. It is an expression of Americans’ sense of national community and our desire to protect each other against the potential hazards of life.