*This letter was submitted, but not published

While Bryce Covert is right that America should offer more robust assistance to keep families with children out of poverty, her characterization of Social Security as a cash handout to the elderly is wrong. (We Pay to Keep the Old Out of Poverty. Why Won’t We Do the Same for the Young? 5/7/22).  Social Security is funded by the wages of American workers. Benefits are calculated according to individual workers’ lifetime earnings.  That’s why we call it an “earned benefit” and not a “direct cash payment,” as Covert claims. Of course, Social Security is not only for seniors. Some 3.2 million children receive Social Security benefits due to a parent’s death or disability. As a country of great prosperity, America certainly should make sure that no citizen of any age falls into poverty.  But let’s not pit the generations against each other as Social Security’s opponents often do. Social Security is an inter-generational compact that has provided workers, retirees, the disabled and their families with basic financial security for decades. Surely, we can do more to reduce childhood poverty in America while at the same time boosting the program that keeps millions of grandparents and grandchildren out of poverty.

Max Richtman

President & CEO
National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
Washington, DC