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AARP Celebrates 76th Anniversary of Social Security

Earned benefits provide reliable source of retirement income, keep millions out of poverty

August 12, 2011

Media Relations


Earned benefits provide reliable source of retirement income,
keep millions out of poverty

WASHINGTON—With Sunday marking the 76th anniversary of the creation of Social Security, AARP is celebrating the lifelong protections that Social Security’s earned benefits provide for millions of Americans today, and emphasizing the importance of protecting and strengthening the program for future generations.

“Social Security is critical to the financial security of more than 55 million Americans today,” said AARP CEO A. Barry Rand. “With dwindling pensions, dramatic losses in retirement savings, declining home values and rising health care costs, Social Security is the one guaranteed source of income that beneficiaries can rely on to help pay their monthly bills.”

More than one in three retiree households count on Social Security for 90% or more of their income, with even greater reliance in African American and Hispanic senior households. And benefits are modest—approximately $14,000 a year for retirees. In addition, Social Security benefits keep over 36% of people age 65 and older out of poverty, including 39% of all older women. Social Security benefits are particularly important for women due to their higher life expectancies and lower earnings, on average, than men.

Rand said, “Another piece of the great success story of Social Security is that it also provides a level of income security for disabled workers, spouses, survivors and their children—people of all ages. The critical importance of these benefits for family income security simply cannot be overstated.”

For a married worker with average earnings and a family to support, the survivor benefits Social Security would provide are comparable to a life insurance policy worth $476,000, and if the worker becomes disabled, the benefits are comparable to a disability insurance policy worth $329,000.

“Americans overwhelmingly understand that Social Security has literally been a lifeline to millions of friends, family members and neighbors for 76 years, and will be critically important to the financial and retirement security of our children and grandchildren,” added Rand.

Rand concluded, “On this anniversary, AARP reaffirms its commitment to protecting Social Security. We will fight any proposal to cut earned Social Security benefits as part of a deficit reduction exercise. We will also continue working to strengthen the program in the context of retirement security for current and future generations.”

For more information, please contact AARP Media Relations at (202) 434-2560 or visit

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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