Monday, March 28, 2011

Social Security Rally on Capitol Hill

This afternoon more than 300 supporters of Social Security turned out at an event on Capitol Hill to stand in support of this important intergenerational program. Among them, 14 year old Michael Owens gave his testimony about the impact Social Security has had in his life.

Michael and his Grandma Pat
Michael's grandparents raised him since the day he was born. When he was four, they became his legal guardians. Unfortunately, before he could be legally adopted by both of them, his grandpa passed away in 2006. But in 2008 his grandma carried through with the adoption and ever since then he’s been fortunate to receive Social Security. Even at the age of 14, Michael knows how important Social Security is for his family. “Social Security means a lot of things to me, especially since my grandpa died. It helps my grandma and me with the basic things, but also means I can do things that other children get to do, like participating in sports. My grandma takes very good care of me, but we could not survive without Social Security. “

Later in the event, five U.S. Senators announced their support for protecting Social Security for today’s recipients and future beneficiaries. For two of the Senators protecting Social Security is not just political, it’s personal.

Senator Tom Harkin
Growing up Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and his four siblings were raised by his father, Patrick, a coal miner and his mother, Frances. After years of working as a coal miner, Patrick Harkin was disabled by black lung disease and was unable to work. In 1950, Senator Harkin’s mother passed away. He was just ten years old. In 1951 Patrick Harkin qualified for Social Security and was able to raise his family with the benefits. “It if hadn’t have been for Social Security, I don’t know what would have happened to my family.  How would we have stayed together? It's the only income we had. It kept us together and in school.” remarked Senator Harkin. “I lived it and saw what it did for my family. The promise of Social Security is one that we must keep and one which we will continue to insist on for future generations.”

Sen. Al Franken with his wife Franni
Senator Al Franken (D-MN) also shared his personal stake in Social Security. At just 17-months-old, his wife, Franni, lost her father—a decorated veteran of WWII—in a car accident that left her mother widowed with five kids at the age of 29. “Sometimes they didn’t have enough food on the table; sometimes they’d turn off the heat,” Franken said. “They made it because of Pell Grants, scholarships, and Social Security survivor benefits. And my mother-in-law and every one of those five kids became a productive member of society.” Senator Franken discussed how the government has a duty to provide for those in need through Social Security. “It is important that we preserve Social Security and give our children and grandchildren the same fighting chance we all had growing up.”

All over the country, Social Security is making a difference in people’s lives. Social Security is more than a retirement program. It provides essential protections for people spanning all ages, from infants to retirees. In the upcoming weeks as the Senate votes on the Sanders/Reid Social Security Protection Amendment, Generations United urges Members of Congress to support this intergenerational program and protect the promise of Social Security for all generations.

For more information on how Social Security benefits all generations, check out our publications:
Social Security: What's at Stake for Children, Youth, and Grandfamilies
The Benefits of Social Security for Children
The Benefits of Social Security for Grandfamilies

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