Aug. 14 marks 73 years since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. Today, more than 164 million workers are protected by the program. And more than 50 million people receive retirement, survivors or disability benefits. One in three beneficiaries is not a retiree but a disabled worker, the dependent family member of a disabled worker or the survivor of a deceased worker.
Over the next two decades, nearly 80 million Americans will become eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. That means about 10,000 are becoming eligible to apply for benefits every day.
Social Security has expanded and changed quite a bit since 1935. For example, the Social Security Amendments of 1939 broadened the program to include payments to dependents and survivors of retirees. In 1956, Congress created the disability program. The Social Security Amendments of 1958 expanded the program by including benefits for dependents of disabled workers.
The Social Security Amendments of 1961 permitted all workers to elect early retirement at age 62. In 1965, the Medicare bill was signed, providing medical protection for Social Security retirees. Later amendments extended Medicare coverage to Social Security disability beneficiaries.
The most significant aspect of the Social Security Amendments of 1972 created the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Funded from general revenues, the SSI program was intended to provide a supplement to people with limited income who have attained age 65 or are blind or disabled.
Social Security benefits are essential to the economic security of today's older Americans. The annual cost-of-living adjustment ensures that seniors will have an inflation-proof benefit they can count on for as long as they live.
Social Security is a compact between generations. Today's workers are paying for the benefits that their parents and grandparents receive. Over the years, Social Security has become America's No. 1 family protection plan.
To learn more, visit www.socialsecurity.gov or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).