Mention Social Security and most people immediately think of the monthly checks received by the program’s 62 million beneficiaries. Each day we see and hear how retirement, disability and survivor benefits keep people afloat and prevent them from falling into poverty. (Nearly half of beneficiaries rely on Social Security for all or most of their income). But that money isn’t just a lifeline to beneficiaries and their families, it’s an economic boon for their communities and the entire nation. Every year, $800 billion dollars flow to beneficiaries who spend much of their income locally. They do business at the grocery store, the pharmacy, the auto repair shop, the theater and the hairstylist. They purchase clothing, pay rent and other basic expenses – stimulating and strengthening the economy.
The spending power of older Americans, bolstered by Social Security benefits, is a potent financial force. Businesses offer senior discounts to entice retirees, who tend to spend more of their money than other age groups. When Social Security beneficiaries help local businesses to prosper, those businesses hire additional workers and order more supplies, infusing the economy with even more money.
Efforts to boost Social Security have languished in the Republican-controlled Congress. But that could change after November’s elections. There is no better way to help Main Street than to elect members of Congress who appreciate Social Security’s immensely positive impact on our economy – and will work hard to expand on the program’s promise.