WASHINGTON, D.C. - As the federal Social Security program marks its 75th year, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today held a news conference call to detail how Social Security provides critical support to millions of Ohio seniors, families, and individuals with disabilities. On the call, Brown was joined by Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgressOhio, to detail key points of a new report, prepared by Strengthen Social Security. The report outlines how Social Security keeps thousands of Ohioans out of poverty and also provides critical life and disability insurance protection to millions of Ohio's children.
"Simply put, Social Security helped build and helps sustains our nation's middle class. Workers and employers make dedicated contributions so that Americans can retire with some financial security and be protected against lost wages due to death or disability," Brown said. "In Ohio, more than two million residents - one out of every six Ohioans - receives Social Security benefits. Those benefits help lift approximately 779,000 Ohioans out of poverty. And while Social Security will remain solvent for the next 30 years, we must do everything we can to protect this vital safety net for millions of Americans. That means protecting it against privatization schemes that could gamble away the retirement security of American seniors. And it means keeping the current eligibility age intact so that all Ohioans - whether they work in a desk job or a factory - can retire with security."
"This shows that many of Ohio's retired workers and their families depend on social security to supplement their incomes. We need to strengthen Social Security, not cut it, or do other things that compromise it such as rising the retirement age or privatizing it. Ohioans who work hard all their lives need to know the promise of Social Security will continue to be there. Social Security is the one promise we cannot allow some in Washington to break," said Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgressOhio.
Several of the report's key findings follow:
- Social Security provides benefits to 2,021,900 Ohio residents - approximately one in every six.
- Social Security lifts out of poverty a total of 779,000 Ohio residents, including 556,000 Ohioans 65 and above. Without Social Security, the elderly poverty rate would increase from about 8 percent to 46 percent.
- Ohio residents receive Social Security benefits totaling over $25.7 billion per year.
- Social Security provides benefits to 1,253,300 retired Ohio workers-approximately one in ten retirees.
- The median benefit received by a retired worker is about $14,400 annually.
On the call, Brown also detailed a new resolution he is circulating with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) aimed at protecting American retirees by not raising the retirement age, privatizing the program, or cutting benefits.
For 75 years, Social Security has succeeded in keeping millions of senior citizens, widows, and the disabled out of poverty. Before Social Security, about half of America's senior citizens lived in poverty. Today, less than 10 percent live in poverty, and more than 52 million Americans receive Social Security benefits.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, even if no changes are made, Social Security will be able to pay full benefits to every recipient until the year 2039. After that, there will be enough funding available to pay 80 percent of promised benefits and, with minor adjustments, 100 percent of benefits.
The Social Security Trust Fund has a $2.5 trillion surplus that is projected to grow to more than $4 trillion by the year 2023. Social Security invests the surplus money it receives from workers into U.S. government bonds, the same bonds that China, other foreign countries and wealthy investors have purchased. These bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.