Social Security, saving and your future

Date: February 8, 2016

Carolyn Colvin started in the typing pool. Now appointed by President Obama, she’s Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), one of the largest agencies in the federal government. Colvin leads over 60,000 federal employees nationwide, plus 18,000 state employees, and her agency is responsible for paying over $800 billion each year in monthly benefits to over 60 million recipients, as well as maintaining lifetime earnings records for over 165 million workers.

At United Way’s “In Their Own Words” breakfast on February 3, Colvin shared her insights with central Maryland’s leaders.

Social Security is the nation’s most effective poverty prevention program, keeping 21 million Americans out of poverty,” said Colvin. “It’s part of the fabric of American life.”

And it’s personal. Colvin described losing her son and how social security cared for his four young children. Her elderly mother also benefited, as did her brother. “This program has given so much to my family. It makes a difference to so many people I care about and to so many who are vulnerable,” said Colvin.

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But social security isn’t enough, said Colvin. Young people – all people — need to save to be financially stable. Social security is one essential leg of a three-legged stool and must be supplemented with pension and savings. Increasingly, as defined benefit plans and pensions disappear, today’s workers must focus on saving through employer sponsored retirement plans that often offer matching incentives or through their own plan such as My Retirement Account, a new program by the U.S. Department of the Treasury with no costs or fees and no risk of losing money.

Colvin also promoted Social Security’s self-service options and secure online records which empower everyone to take retirement into their own hands and prepare for the future.

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When it comes to the future and family stability, Colvin noted we all need to work together.

“United Way has always been important to me throughout my career,” she said. “You’re doing a wonderful thing with your work. Thank you for your service for so many millions of people in need.”

In addition to participating in workplace giving campaigns, Colvin’s team also volunteers with United Way of Central Maryland, recently picking corn as part of United Way’s Harvest Helpers program that provides healthy, nutritious food for people in need.

At 73 years old, Colvin shows no sign of stopping. “I thank God he’s given me one more day to make a difference,” she said.

At the event, United Way of Central Maryland President and CEO Mark Furst welcomed Tocqueville donors and business and community leaders. Brandi Nieland, Director of the 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline, shared stories about the more than 103,000 calls for help received last year as well as a record 1,700 calls received this past Monday alone.

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Marianne Mattran, President of Foundry Wealth Advisors and United Way of Central Maryland Board Member, introduced Carolyn Colvin and the connection between her extensive public service and United Way’s service to the community.

Simone Williams, Senior Marketing Manager of Global Business Development at Laureate Education, who also serves on United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council Executive Committee and Emerging Leaders United Committee, closed the event. Williams reminded everyone to register for the next “In Their Own Words” breakfast with Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis on March 2.

The “In Their Own Words” breakfast series is made possible thanks to the generosity of DLA Piper.

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