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Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:03

Social Security Isn’t Just for Old Folks Anymore

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Social Security was meant
to protect elderly Americans from
the financial vicissitudes of growing
old. Eighty years later, the
safety net championed by President
Franklin D. Roosevelt is protecting
some younger people, too.
About 6.4 million kids, or
almost 1 in 10 Americans under the
age of 18, rely on checks from Social
Security. The fastest growth is
among indirect beneficiaries, especially
kids who live with grandparents
collecting the federal benefit.
According to a new report
by the Center for Global Policy Solutions,
more than 3.2 million children
were indirect recipients in
2014, up 48 percent from 2001.
Another 3.2 million children receive
Social Security directly because
their parents or guardians
have died, are disabled, or are old
enough to retire. The number of
minors in this category was up 6
percent since 2001, according to
the report by the Center, a liberalleaning
Washington think tank.
More children are being
supported by Social Security as the
American family heads back to a
living arrangement more akin to
the early 20th century, with multiple
generations living under the
same roof. According to the Census
Bureau (PDF), 5.1 million U.S.
households consisted of three or
more generations in 2010, up from
3.9 million in the 2000 census.
Much of this is being driven by
economics, as U.S. families make
thousands of dollars less now than
they did in 2001.
“Social Security is a
tremendous economic benefit for
children living in some of America’s
most vulnerable households,”
the report stated, estimating that
benefit checks make up 39 percent
of household income for underage
beneficiaries. The Center proposes
expanding Social Security benefits
by, for example, extending direct
benefits for 18- to 22-year-olds so
they can more easily attend college.
Policymakers have been
underestimating the number of
children who get help from Social
Security, according to the report’s
authors, who include researchers at
the University of Massachusetts-
Amherst. To measure the number
of beneficiaries under 18, the report
analyzed both Social Security
data and the U.S. Current Population
Survey.
Extended families are being
forced to pool resources. After adjusting
for inflation, the median income
for families with children
was $60,410 in 2014, down from
$64,613 in 2007 and $65,678 in
2001. The poverty rate among children
receiving Social Security is 26
percent, the report estimates, but it
would be 43 percent without the
program’s benefits.
The Center’s report is also
a reminder of how difficult it's gotten
to save and plan for retirement.
Many Americans aren’t just using
Social Security—and any paltry
savings they've accumulated—to
support themselves. Now, some
also bear the burden of caring for
grandchildren.
Ben Steverman
Bloomberg

Read 1611 times Last modified on Thursday, 28 July 2016 16:31

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