Social Security was meant to protect elderly Americans from the financial vicissitudes of growing old. Eighty years later, the safety net championed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt is protecting some younger people, too.

About 6.4 million kids, or almost 1 in 10 Americans under the age of 18, rely on checks from Social Security. The fastest growth is among indirect beneficiaries, especially kids who live with grandparents collecting the federal benefit.

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