By J. Jioni Palmer, Associate Commissioner for External Affairs, Social Security Administration
August 2 kicked off Social Security Faith Week of Action. During this special week, faith-based organizations around the country held events, distributed educational materials, and reached out to their communities to help us educate people of all backgrounds about Social Security. And this is just the start of what we expect to be a long-term partnership.
Why invite communities of faith to support our public education efforts? Because we share a common mission to prevent poverty and encourage financial security for the nation’s families—as well as those who have no family. Simply put, Social Security helps fulfill everyone’s birthright to live with dignity and have access to necessities.
For eight decades, Social Security has served as the foundation of retirement security for millions of Americans and helped many stay out of poverty. But it’s not a handout. These benefits only go to people who have paid into the system through taxes on their earnings, and in some cases to their family members.
Here are few staggering facts you probably didn’t know about this vital social safety net:
- In a recent typical month, Social Security provided benefits to 59.5 million people, totaling approximately $72.8 billion.
- Social Security is the largest federal benefit program for children. Nearly 7 million children live in families that receive part of their income from Social Security.
- Social Security lifts nearly 9 million elderly women out of poverty each year, providing them with peace of mind and a better standard of living.
- Social Security is a very sound investment. Our administrative costs add up to less than 1.3 percent of what we pay in benefits.
For more facts, visit Social Security Basic Facts.
Regional faith-based organizations are helping us educate the public about the Social Security programs and services available to them. So are national umbrella groups like the Jewish Federations of North America, the National Council of Churches, and Islamic Relief USA. They’re also telling workers about the critical importance of planning and saving for their retirement years, to the extent they can. Social Security covers an estimated 165 million workers. Yet more than a third of them have no savings set aside specifically for retirement.
Equipped with our toolkit of publication-ready materials, these organizations are helping workers get started on developing a sound financial plan by creating a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. This secure online account gives workers convenient access to their own personalized Social Security Statement, which they can use to get estimates of their future benefits and verify the earnings information we have for them in our records. This is important because future benefits depend on earnings.
These are just some of the ways that communities of faith are helping us reach out to the people we share a mission to serve.
Is your faith-based organization interested in partnering with Social Security? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!