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Social Security: Effective Anti-Poverty Remedy for 68,000 NH Seniors

November 4, 2013

CONCORD, N.H. - Without their Social Security benefits, the number of New Hampshire seniors living in poverty would jump by 38 percentage points, according to a new report. In these difficult economic times, said report author Paul Van de Water, senior fellow with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Social Security has become more than a reliable source of retirement money for people at all income levels - it is now a vital social safety net for older folks, in New Hampshire and the nation.

"The country's most important anti-poverty program, Social Security lifts 15 million American seniors out of poverty, including 68,000 seniors in New Hampshire," Van de Water said.

According to the report, as of 2012, just 6 percent of New Hampshire seniors were living in poverty - but if their Social Security benefits were not part of the picture, that number would jump to 44 percent.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) serves on a 29-member budget conference committee in Congress and is a supporter of the Ryan budget proposal that calls for deep cuts to entitlement programs.

Olivia Zink, community organizer, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, said Ayotte wants to hear from constituents about this report and its implications.

"The message to send Sen. Ayotte: no cuts to Social Security, strengthen the program. Cuts to these programs will only benefit Wall Street bankers - they won't benefit seniors in New Hampshire," Zink said.

Van de Water pointed out that one of the most talked-about proposals for trimming Social Security - the so-called "chained-CPI" - could be especially hard on older people already living near the poverty line, unless provisions are made to protect them.

"If that were done, we think it would be particularly important to make sure that there was some protection provided for the lowest-income Americans and for people who have been on the benefit rolls a long time," he said, "and therefore would be the most likely to be affected by that proposal."

The report, "Social Security Keeps 22 Million Americans Out Of Poverty: A State-By-State Analysis," is available at www.cbpp.org.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH