This paper analyses the positive effects of the recent efforts to expand Social Protection Systems (SPS) on the reduction of poverty and inequality in the region. SPS have improved both in terms of coverage as well as in the scope of the protection offered with new dimensions of the system in most countries in Latin America. Nevertheless, there are still important inequalities in the access to social protection by type of employment and income. Contributory coverage is still low, and a significant portion of the population is unprotected. In turn non-contributory assistance, with higher coverage, provides only small benefits. In this context, the incidence of social spending through direct transfers is still low compared to other developed countries. An expansion of social protection systems based on a combination of both non-contributory and contributory schemes to achieve universal coverage is essential.