Social Security Beneficiaries — Including Millions of Veterans — Are Winners of the 2020 Election

Nancy Altman, President, Social Security Works

Today is the last Veterans Day during which Donald Trump will be President. That’s great news for Veterans. The nation does not need a Commander-in-Chief who believes those who serve our nation are losers and suckers.

Veterans deserve a President Joe Biden. The president-elect knows what it’s like to have a child serving in the military. (HIs late son Beau was a veteran, who served in Iraq.) He respects the military and is committed to fighting for those who have fought for us.

Fighting for veterans means fighting to protect and expand their benefits. That includes fighting to protect and expand Social Security, as Joe Biden is committed to doing.

Social Security isn’t generally thought of as a veterans’ benefit, but it is vital to those who have served us. Those who serve the nation in war zones are, by definition, in harm’s way. In addition to providing the nation’s most important source of retirement income, Social Security provides working families — including military families — essential life insurance and disability insurance.

Over 600,000 veterans, many of whom were seriously injured during their time in combat, receive Social Security disability benefits. When a service member is killed in action, Social Security is there to support their Gold Star families with survivors benefits. And those veterans who are fortunate to live to old age receive the Social Security retirement benefits that they have earned.

In total, over nine million veterans — about four in 10 — receive Social Security. Veterans and their families make up around one-third of all Social Security beneficiaries. Over their lifetimes, most veterans will collect the Social Security benefits they earned and so duly deserve.

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It is commonplace (though false) to hear that young people will not collect their earned Social Security. Indeed, medically-retired Army Sergeant Shaun Castle knows that right now, today, even the youngest working Americans are receiving vital protection.

At the age of 22, Sergeant Castle suffered a spinal cord injury while stationed overseas and was forced to retire from the military. Now the Deputy Executive Director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the former military police officer testified before Congress last year about Social Security’s vital importance to all Americans, including millennials like him:

“When I was determined to be eligible for SSDI [Social Security disability insurance benefits], I was on the verge of being homeless, running out of food, and dealing with the ramifications from a second failed spinal cord surgery that had put me into my wheelchair permanently.

Being granted SSDI gave me some breathing room. I was able to finally get into an accessible home and started to put my life back together. Had I not received SSDI when I did, I do not honestly know what I would have done and how that would have impacted where I am today….I’m happy to report that I am now past my trial work period and have transitioned off benefits. I really have SSDI to thank for being there when I needed it the most and the role it played in helping me get to where I am now.”

With help from Social Security, Sergeant Castle is now enjoying a successful career advocating for other veterans. His story epitomizes the program’s importance and effectiveness.

An important reason Donald Trump lost his bid to remain in power was his promise that in his second term he would end Social Security by “terminating” (his word), Social Security’s dedicated revenue. A letter from the independent Chief Actuary of Social Security warned that under Trump’s plan, all Social Security benefits would come to a halt by 2023.

Joe Biden campaigned on protecting and expanding Social Security. In fact, Biden made Social Security a major part of in his campaign. Biden’s campaign aired TV ads on the importance of Social Security and condemning Donald Trump’s threats to slash Social Security benefits. Joe Biden mentioned Social Security in his convention speech and at nearly every campaign stop.

Joe Biden’s steadfast support of Social Security is terrific news for America’s veterans. In fact, it is terrific news for everyone.

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