Senate Democrats

Senate Democrats Are On Your Side: Fighting to Protect Social Security

When it comes to retirement security, the contrast is clear:  Democrats know that Social Security is a promise that must never be broken – a program that you have earned and paid for with a lifetime of hard work – while Republicans are threatening once again to privatize and cut your Social Security–turning it over to Wall Street.

Democrats are committed to protecting Social Security from those who oppose the program and want to privatize it or phase it out altogether.  Privatization would force deep benefit cuts and a massive increase in debt, while putting benefits at the mercy of Wall Street and taking the security out of Social Security.

While Social Security faces long-term challenges that must be addressed, it is not in crisis.  The Congressional Budget Office says that, even if no improvements are made to Social Security’s  long-range financing, it can pay every penny of benefits for nearly 30 years.  And, after that it can pay larger benefits than seniors receive today, even after accounting for inflation.

Key Facts

Social Security is more important than ever.  Signed into law 75 years ago, Social Security was created at a time when the American economy had crumbled and was struggling to recover.  Now, without Social Security, nearly half of Americans age 65 and older would live in poverty.  Instead, millions of Americans can live their lives with dignity and independence. 

·         Over 52 million Americans receive Social Security benefits. 

This includes more than 90 percent of our seniors.  One in three beneficiaries is not a senior citizen, but instead a surviving spouse or child of a deceased breadwinner, a dependent spouse or child, or a person with disabilities.  About 6.5 million children under 18 – nearly 9 percent of all U.S. children – received part of their family income from Social Security in 2005. [Social Security Administration, 8/5/09; Alliance for Retired Americans, 7/10]

·         The average retiree benefit in 2010: $14,000. 

The median income for senior households is a mere $24,000 – reflecting just how much Social Security means to most American seniors.  Social Security provides the majority of income for two-thirds of our elderly. For one-third, it provides nearly all their income. [Alliance for Retired Americans, 7/10]

·         Social Security is self-financing and does not take money from the general fund of the Federal budget.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that Social Security will remain solvent until 2039, after which incoming payroll taxes will be able to pay 80 percent of promised benefits – which will be more in real terms than today’s benefits. [CBO, 7/10]

The Social Security Trust Fund now includes about $2.5 trillion of Treasury securities, all backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. [Alliance for Retired Americans, 7/10]

All Social Security benefits are paid from the Social Security Trust Fund or incoming payroll taxes, not the General Fund.  By law, the trust fund is entirely off-budget, and Social Security cannot borrow from the General Fund to pay benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s your plan to save Social Security?

Senate Democrats are committed to –

·         Honor our obligations:  While many are scared that Social Security won’t be there for them, if we just honor our obligations to Social Security, as we always have, the program can pay all promised benefits for nearly 30 years;

·         Do no harm:  Save the program from those who want to privatize it or phase it out altogether;

·         Crack down on cheaters, who cost Social Security about $50 billion a year; and

·         Bipartisan negotiations: Work in a bipartisan manner to make the modest adjustments necessary to ensure long-term solvency.

What’s wrong with privatization?

Plenty –

·         Privatization would cut benefits:  Privatization would divert money from the trust fund and force deep benefit cuts in the future.  President Bush’s plan would have cut benefits by one-third or more;

·         It is too risky to base Social Security benefits on the stock market:  At one point in 2008, the Dow had declined 40 percent; and

·         Privatization would add massive debt:  Bush’s plan would have required $5 trillion in new debt over the first 20 years. [CBPP, 2/7/05]

Isn’t Social Security unaffordable in the long run?

No.  To provide some perspective, over the next 75 years it would cost more to extend all the upper-income tax cuts (0.7 percent of GDP in present value) than to close the entire Social Security shortfall (0.6 percent of GDP).  By comparison, the cost of extending all the Bush tax cuts (2.1 percent of GDP) is more than three times the Social Security shortfall. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculations based on CBO, OMB, and JCT data and the 2009 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports]

Should undocumented immigrants get Social Security?

Contrary to some claims, under current law, undocumented immigrants already are prohibited from receiving Social Security benefits. 



State-by-State Stats:  Number of beneficiaries

State

Total

Retired workers

Disabled workers

Widow(er)s

Spouses

Children

Alabama

983,341

543,725

204,573

91,034

42,103

101,906

Alaska

74,678

46,498

11,572

5,126

2,807

8,675

Arizona

1,028,442

693,216

138,396

76,096

46,043

74,691

Arkansas

620,040

352,317

128,375

52,593

24,568

62,187

California

4,835,164

3,182,221

639,263

383,550

268,296

361,834

Colorado

663,894

443,673

87,987

53,252

32,788

46,194

Connecticut

611,276

428,877

74,153

43,845

21,551

42,850

Delaware

167,530

111,912

24,937

12,258

5,984

12,439

DC

73,093

47,343

11,948

5,471

1,794

6,537

Florida

3,669,375

2,536,392

458,526

277,117

161,506

235,834

Georgia

1,412,978

872,059

236,868

117,937

51,861

134,253

Hawaii

220,491

160,553

21,698

15,485

8,376

14,379

Idaho

258,691

169,173

36,525

20,104

12,938

19,951

Illinois

1,993,199

1,306,280

262,227

176,524

88,786

159,382

Indiana

1,157,821

735,047

175,035

100,522

49,436

97,781

Iowa

574,315

388,139

68,425

52,462

27,606

37,683

Kansas

478,138

314,968

65,631

40,996

20,196

36,347

Kentucky

870,206

461,223

190,170

86,110

44,837

87,866

Louisiana

770,217

401,165

135,077

94,302

51,753

87,920

Maine

293,011

180,317

53,959

22,685

12,144

23,906

Maryland

826,497

555,790

108,605

66,708

31,428

63,966

Massachusetts

1,117,870

724,674

179,409

82,792

41,230

89,765

Michigan

1,905,342

1,194,623

293,299

164,633

91,400

161,387

Minnesota

857,805

584,560

109,472

68,615

37,367

57,791

Mississippi

583,515

318,734

121,217

52,139

21,746

69,679

Missouri

1,137,581

707,487

190,813

95,774

46,065

97,442

Montana

187,197

123,975

24,865

15,886

9,264

13,207

Nebraska

303,880

203,762

38,133

26,866

14,022

21,097

Nevada

390,553

269,889

52,776

26,345

14,396

27,147

New Hampshire

245,563

161,891

39,678

16,032

7,988

19,974

New Jersey

1,440,943

995,695

176,927

110,859

54,287

103,175

New Mexico

347,976

213,959

55,815

29,048

18,944

30,210

New York

3,214,780

2,100,332

470,783

248,238

138,038

257,389

North Carolina

1,698,677

1,082,726

296,118

126,002

54,127

139,704

North Dakota

118,493

76,872

12,872

13,412

7,660

7,677

Ohio

2,074,384

1,291,578

291,040

215,198

117,162

159,406

Oklahoma

688,545

419,458

114,708

63,181

31,301

59,897

Oregon

686,777

467,560

91,803

54,020

31,000

42,394

Pennsylvania

2,530,211

1,641,934

352,884

233,228

115,337

186,828

Rhode Island

200,202

133,026

32,963

13,419

5,578

15,216

South Carolina

889,876

556,444

156,502

69,929

29,571

77,430

South Dakota

150,432

101,648

16,866

14,168

7,741

10,009

Tennessee

1,212,968

730,711

217,950

105,359

50,506

108,442

Texas

3,320,462

1,995,282

499,728

324,886

197,421

303,145

Utah

312,029

203,464

39,318

22,829

17,617

28,801

Vermont

124,585

80,961

19,567

9,409

4,883

9,765

Virginia

1,246,366

799,184

190,962

103,562

52,589

100,069

Washington

1,049,039

698,822

150,080

80,041

49,621

70,475

West Virginia

436,445

225,811

91,273

49,293

29,253

40,815

Wisconsin

1,033,096

697,097

137,596

82,691

41,107

74,605

Wyoming

88,514

59,708

11,312

7,225

4,034

6,235

SOURCE:  House Committee on Ways and Means compilation of data from the Social Security Administration, Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, Congressional Statistics 2009, available here.



State-by-State Stats:  Monthly Benefits

State

All beneficiaries

(thousands of dollars)

Retired workers

(thousands of dollars)

Average Benefit

Alabama

995,047

614,516

$1,130

Alaska

75,477

51,652

$1,110

Arizona

1,130,429

824,221

$1,188

Arkansas

611,114

386,561

$1,097

California

5,157,177

3,682,640

$1,157

Colorado

709,615

509,759

$1,148

Connecticut

723,023

546,727

$1,274

Delaware

191,920

138,475

$1,237

DC

70,001

49,127

$1,037

Florida

3,958,307

2,936,441

$1,157

Georgia

1,475,429

998,499

$1,144

Hawaii

238,128

184,953

$1,151

Idaho

270,393

192,169

$1,135

Illinois

2,205,859

1,569,838

$1,201

Indiana

1,288,870

900,026

$1,224

Iowa

616,526

450,416

$1,160

Kansas

522,873

375,211

$1,191

Kentucky

861,173

511,086

$1,108

Louisiana

745,801

436,365

$1,087

Maine

289,594

194,614

$1,079

Maryland

914,615

662,096

$1,191

Massachusetts

1,207,840

851,453

$1,174

Michigan

2,175,484

1,502,388

$1,257

Minnesota

938,896

691,140

$1,182

Mississippi

564,156

346,176

$1,086

Missouri

1,192,370

812,763

$1,148

Montana

192,091

137,196

$1,106

Nebraska

321,811

233,605

$1,146

Nevada

428,178

314,915

$1,166

New Hampshire

272,608

195,479

$1,207

New Jersey

1,719,218

1,280,706

$1,286

New Mexico

344,768

233,349

$1,090

New York

3,602,818

2,571,969

$1,224

North Carolina

1,798,292

1,250,210

$1,154

North Dakota

118,640

83,383

$1,084

Ohio

2,215,149

1,514,080

$1,172

Oklahoma

704,557

470,875

$1,122

Oregon

750,210

547,455

$1,170

Pennsylvania

2,788,542

1,970,246

$1,199

Rhode Island

215,857

155,567

$1,169

South Carolina

942,226

643,622

$1,156

South Dakota

150,908

110,086

$1,083

Tennessee

1,257,202

837,850

$1,146

Texas

3,400,596

2,263,541

$1,134

Utah

334,190

238,908

$1,174

Vermont

131,815

94,167

$1,163

Virginia

1,332,677

930,638

$1,164

Washington

1,172,821

845,946

$1,210

West Virginia

448,604

259,271

$1,148

Wisconsin

1,140,891

833,550

$1,195

Wyoming

95,541

69,373

$1,161

SOURCE:  House Committee on Ways and Means compilation of data from the Social Security Administration, Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, Congressional Statistics 2009, available here.

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