Social Security is government‘s best anti-poverty tool: Census Bureau

It should come as little surprise as the baby boomer generation ages into retirement, but Social Security overwhelmingly lifts the most people out of poverty than any other government program.

That’s according to the Census Bureau’s Wednesday, which tries to take into account the government programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals that are not included in the official poverty measure.

Social Security kept 27 million people out of poverty, according to these numbers. Refundable tax credits had the second-biggest impact, keeping 8.3 million out of poverty.


Other programs with big impacts: food stamps, otherwise called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Supplemental Security Income, which goes to aged, blind and disabled people; and housing subsidies.


Conversely, medical expenses were the largest contributor to increasing the number of individuals in poverty. Worker expenses and the payroll tax, also known as the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, also put people in poverty.


The definition of poverty based in the supplemental measure is based on expenditure of food, clothing, shelter and utilities. Though it varies depending on geography, it’s about $27,000 for the typical two-adult, two-child household.