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National Center for Children in Poverty
MARCH 22, 2005
10:49 AM
CONTACT: National Center for Children in Poverty 
Mike Morey,
Security of 5 Million Children Threatened by Plans to Change Social Security
Social Security is the Single Largest Support Program for Children in the United States

WASHINGTON -- March 22 -- While retirees and their spouses are the largest block of beneficiaries from the program, over 5 million children in the United States benefit from Social Security, either directly as beneficiaries or indirectly as members of households that receive a monthly Social Security check.

Social Security is the single largest program that provides support to American children. One in 15 recipients of Social security is a child. 3.1 million children under the age of 18 receive benefits directly, because a parent dies, or can no longer work because of a disability, or retires. Another 2.2 million children are in families where other family members receive benefits. On average, Social Security comprises 43% of total income for the families of child beneficiaries.

“Children cannot vote and they do not have the electoral clout to demand the attention of policy-makers,” said Nancy Cauthen, author of a policy brief on Social Security and children, and the Deputy Director of the National Center for Children and Poverty at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “But we cannot ignore their needs. We have detailed the potentially destructive effects that many proposed changes to Social Security will have on children with the hope that responsible policy makers will not ignore their needs.

The Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program – what is called Social Security – was designed, according to President Roosevelt, to assure “the security of men, women, and children of the nation against certain hazards and vicissitudes of life.” It is, intended according to Dr. Knitzer, NCCP’s Executive Director, to be a safety net for families, not just for individuals.

“Immediately after the September 11th attacks, most of the children who lost a parent, as well as the surviving parents who stayed home to care for these children, qualified for Social Security benefits, and the first checks were received in less than a month,” said Cauthen. “Although 9/11 is an extreme example, it underscores the protections offered by Social Security. It’s time for the debates about privatization and benefit cuts to confront what’s presently at stake for children.”

A copy of a fact sheet outlining the impact of Social Security on children can be found at and attached here.

For more information on NCCP, please visit To schedule an interview with the author of the report or the executive director of the National Center for Children in Poverty, please contact Mike Morey at 914-833-7093 or


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