We take Social Security for granted, but where did this important insurance program come from and when did it start? It hasn’t been around forever, has it? The answer is no. Social Security began after the Great Depression, when millions of Americans who had lost their savings were facing an old age defined by stark poverty. Few workers had pensions through their jobs, and President Franklin Roosevelt wanted to do something to alleviate the poverty that faced so many older workers in their retirement years.
Since its creation in 1935, millions of retirees have been able to live more comfortably because of this national insurance program, which they collectively funded through payroll taxes during their working years you will see this as FICA on your payroll statement. Though Social Security wasn’t meant to be the only source of income for beneficiaries, it was in its early years and, unfortunately, it still is today for many. As per Social Security fact sheet in 2017 21% of married couples and 43% of unmarried persons rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income. Many people do not realize that this is a program that has a life insurance, disability and retirement income benefits that you and your family can benefit from.
With changing demographics that include more retirees and fewer workers, Social Security has had to evolve over the years. President Reagan signed into law several revisions to Social Security after Congress passed suggestions made by the Greenspan Commission, which had reviewed the program’s financial picture. These changes included an increase in the payroll tax that pays for benefits as well as a gradual increase in the retirement age, from 65 to 67.
In the future, it’s likely that more changes will have to be made to keep the program financially sound. The prospect can sound alarming, but making necessary tweaks to keep a valuable program that provides millions of Americans with the basic income they need is well worth the effort. Long live Social Security!
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