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Project gathers stories about Social Security for book, awareness effort


A new effort to gather stories about the importance of Social Security in our society has been launched. The Social Security Stories Project is seeking story submissions from the public, with a goal of receiving 1,000 stories by the end of July.

The stories will then be reviewed for possible inclusion in a new book to be published in honor of the 75th anniversary of Social Security on Aug. 14, 2010.

Those who have received Social Security as well as those who know of a friend or family member whose life was impacted are encouraged to submit their stories. Online submission is easy and requires less than 400 words or a short video. Full details and a submission form are available at

“We are hoping the younger generations will interview their parents and grandparents on the subject which is why our website offers interview questions,” said Barbara Burt, executive director for the Frances Perkins Center, a nonprofit organization leading the project as part of its mission to honor and learn from Frances Perkins (the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet).

A pioneering woman in and ahead of her time, Perkins was U.S. secretary of labor for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She was champion of the New Deal, close friend and advisor to FDR.

The Social Security Stories Project seeks to create a full picture of the importance of Social Security to celebrate and share with all U.S. citizens, and the world.

Stories may be about how:

* Social Security helped a family after a tragedy.
* Social Security is helping with retirement even in these tough financial times.
* Children were left without a working parent or were orphaned, but Social Security provided economic security.
* Social Security helped ensure someone received an education.
* A veteran was able to live in dignity.

“We’re inviting people across America to share examples of how Social Security made a meaningful difference in their life or the life of someone they know – as it currently does for one in six Americans,” Burt said.

There are three ways to submit a story:

* Upload a video on YouTube (less than 3 minutes in length) and include a link to the video with the submission form available at
* Fill out the simple form on the website (400 words or less).
* Send a hard copy of your story in regular mail to: Social Security Stories Project, Frances Perkins Center, PO Box 281, Newcastle, ME 04553

The project is also utilizing social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to get out the word in a grassroots effort to share and celebrate stories about Social Security and educate the public.


One in six Americans currently benefits from Social Security. Social Security includes coverage for retired workers, disabled people under age 65 and dependent family members and survivors of deceased workers (children who lose a parent or are orphaned).

The more than 52.5 million Americans who receive Social Security include:

* 36.4 million retired workers and their families
* 9.7 million disabled persons under age 65 and dependent family members
* 6.4 million survivors of deceased workers

The average benefit received is $1,100 a month.

Social Security celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2010. The Social Security Act was signed into law Aug. 14, 1935 by President Franklin Roosevelt.

Social Security provides more than just retirement benefits:

* Retired workers and their dependents account for 69 percent of total benefits paid.
* Disabled workers and their dependents account for 18 percent of total benefits paid.
* About 91 percent of workers ages 21-64 in covered employment and their families have protection in the event of a long-term disability.
* Almost 3 in 10 of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67.
* 69 percent of the private sector workforce has no long-term disability insurance. Survivors of deceased workers account for about 13 percent of total benefits paid.
* About one in seven of today’s 20-year-olds will die before reaching age 67.
* About 97 percent of persons ages 20-49 who worked in covered employment in 2008 have survivor’s insurance protection for their young children and the surviving spouse caring for the children.

Social Security is the major source of income for most of the elderly:

* Nine out of 10 individuals age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits. Social Security benefits represent about 40 percent of income of the elderly.
* Among elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 52 percent of married couples and 72 percent of unmarried persons receive 50 percent or more of their income from Social Security.
* Among elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 20 percent of married couples and about 41 percent of unmarried persons rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.

An estimated 159 million works, 94 percent of all workers, are covered under Social Security.

Social Security continues to run enormous surpluses, with the combined old age and disability trust funds projected to grow from $2.5 trillion in 2009 to $3.8 trillion in 2020. The current estimates show Social Security will be solvent through 2037, with only minor adjustments — such as raising the payroll cap (now at $106,800) — to keep it in the black indefinitely.

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