Originally published in the August 2010 issue of The Fifty Plus Advocate.
Social Security is an American success story.
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law on August 14, 1935, he said, “We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.”
For 75 years, Social Security has provided provided an earned, inflation-protected retirement benefit Americans can count on. It also provides much needed assistance to spouses and children of deceased workers. Today, nearly 53 million Americans receive Social Security benefits; and, for nearly half of older Americans, Social Security is the principle source of family income.
Over the decades, Social Security has evolved to meet changing needs of the day. Cost of living adjustments (COLA) have been added so benefits can keep up with inflation; benefits have been extended to disabled workers and adult children; early retirement benefits have been provided as well.
Social Security turns 75
This month, as we celebrate Social Security’s 75th Anniversary, the nation struggles with a massive federal deficit. And, predictably, some politicians have started talking about reducing it by cutting the Social Security benefits we’ve earned. To this, AARP says: Social Security hasn’t contributed one dime to our nation’s deficit, so benefits shouldn’t be cut to fix it.
That said, the deficit does threaten our economy and the financial security of future generations; it must be addressed. But, instead of targeting Social Security for cuts, Congress should cut waste, close tax loopholes, and crack down on pork-barrel spending. Social Security is too important to too many Americans; it must continue to evolve – to be strengthened, not weakened.
The words of President Roosevelt, from his radio address marking the third anniversary of the Social Security Act, still ring true today, “In our efforts to provide security for all of the American people, let us not allow ourselves to be misled by those who advocate short cuts to Utopia or fantastic financial schemes. We have come a long way. But we still have a long way to go.”
Let’s start by getting some facts straight:
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