Without Social Security, at least 357,000 more elderly New Jerseyans would fall below the federal poverty level, according to a new analysis of the latest available Census data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
Currently, 7.8 percent of elderly New Jerseyans are officially in poverty. Without Social Security, that would increase more than five-fold, to 39.4 percent, according to CBPP.
As this analysis clearly shows, Social Security is an anti-poverty tool that works.
While it’s true that the number of New Jerseyans (and Americans) in poverty has increased since the recession started in 2007, poverty levels would have skyrocketed if not for successful public programs like Social Security and the Earned Income Tax Credit. In addition, a number of other public programs – like food stamps and subsidized childcare – aren’t counted when determining the poverty level of a household but provide invaluable supports to struggling families.
Even with benefits that are not included in the poverty census like food stamps, one should not be misled that seniors whose Social Security payments place them above the federal poverty definition are necessarily living at a comfortable or secure level. In fact, there is increasing evidence that the high cost of living in New Jersey places many seniors in a “barely surviving” status, just a cut above official poverty.
When Congress returns after the elections and has to tackle the national debt and the so-called “fiscal cliff, ”it needs to take a scalpel, not an ax, to the federal budget and spare these programs that work.
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