June 2, 2016, Washington, D.C. — Strengthening Social Security is one of the best ways that America can reduce and prevent poverty among seniors, the disabled, and surviving dependents of deceased workers, and promote economic security for all.

We applaud President Obama’s proposal to strengthen Social Security given that our nation is facing a retirement crisis with 38 million working-age households (45 percent of the U.S. workforce) without retirement savings of any kind and a paltry median account balance of $40,000 for those with retirement accounts in 2010.

Social Security’s retirement, disability, and survivor benefits provide vital financial assistance to millions of Americans, including 39 million retired workers, 6.1 million dependents of deceased workers, and 9 million disabled workers. If seniors had to rely on only income from sources other than Social Security, fully 4 in 10 would be poor.

Social Security is also a vital tool for fighting and preventing child poverty, with more than 4.4 million children receiving Social Security benefits as the dependents of deceased, disabled, and retired workers.

Also, Social Security is of particular importance to people of color since many are vulnerable to poverty because they work in low-wage jobs that don’t pay enough for them to save and don’t offer retirement accounts.

The President’s proposal to pay for stronger benefits through taxes on the wealthy resonates with proposals like those put forward by the Commission to Modernize Social Security, through its “Plan for a New Future: The Impact of Social Security Reform on People of Color.” The Center for Global Policy Solutions convened the Commission in 2011, together with the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, to identify proposals to extend the program’s long-term solvency while meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse society.

Eliminating the cap on payroll contributions and counting the additional earnings towards benefits with a flatter formula would go a long way toward increasing benefits, helping to ensure a brighter, poverty-free future for seniors, widows/widowers, people with disabilities and children nationwide.

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The Center for Global Policy Solutions is a 501(c)(3) think tank and action organization that labors in pursuit of a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive world in which everyone has the opportunity to thrive in safe and sustainable environments.