On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. As he said at the time, he was just laying the “cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete.” Since then, generations of Americans have contributed to, strengthened, and improved our Social Security system—and for generations, it has protected workers and their families against the loss of income due to retirement, disability, or death. Through wars and recessions, Social Security insurance payments have been made on time and in full; last month, over 58 million Americans of all ages relied on Social Security.
Each of those 58 million people has a story to tell about what Social Security means to them and their families—but 58 million is too many reasons to list. So here are five reasons to celebrate today:
- Social Security is America’s pension system. Nine out of ten Americans ages 65 and older receive Social Security, and two-thirds of them receive at least half of their income from Social Security.
- Social Security is especially important to women. Without Social Security, half of all women 65 and older would be poor.
- Social Security isn’t just for retirement. It provides life and disability insurance protections that are especially important to women of color and their families.
- Social Security lifts over 1 million children out of poverty.
- You can count on Social Security. Even with no changes, Social Security can continue to pay 100 percent of promised benefits for two decades, and 77 percent of promised benefits after 2033. And we can ensure that Social Security can go on paying 100 percent of benefits after that—and finance benefit improvements—with simple adjustments, such as requiring high earners to pay tax on all their earnings.