Social Security Lifts More Americans Above Poverty Than Any Other Program

Social Security benefits play a vital role in reducing poverty in every state, and they lift more Americans above the poverty line than any other program. Without Social Security, 22.1 million more Americans would be poor, according to analysis using the March 2018 Current Population Survey. Although most of those whom Social Security keeps out of poverty are elderly, 6.7 million are under age 65, including 1.1 million children. (See Table 1.) Social Security is particularly important for elderly women and people of color, who have fewer retirement resources outside of Social Security. Depending on their design, reductions in Social Security benefits could significantly increase poverty, particularly among the elderly.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities