Today Is Social Security’s 88th Birthday and It’s More Important Now Than Ever

On August 14, 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. Ever since then, Social Security has proven to be a critical anti-poverty program for women and families.  

When it was first created, “the Social Security Act established two types of provisions for old-age security: (1) Federal aid to the States allowing them to provide cash pensions to the needy aged, and (2) a system of Federal old-age benefits for retired workers.” 

While Social Security may have started off as old-age insurance for individuals, it has grown into a cornerstone for American workers, providing benefits for both retirees and persons with disabilities. For example, around 90% of individuals with severe disabilities (aged 21-64) were insured through Social Security in 2022. 

It’s also important to note that Social Security is vital for people of color and older women. For example: 

  • Women made up over 54% of Social Security beneficiaries aged 62 and older and 62.8% of beneficiaries aged 85 and older at the end of June 2023. 
  • On average, Black and Latino workers have higher disability rates and lower lifetime earnings than white workers so their benefit from Social Security is huge. 
  • In 2021, Social Security lifted 10.4 million women aged 65 and over out of poverty as measured by the Supplemental Poverty Measure, including nearly 1.3 million older Black women, 885,000 older Latinas, and 329,000 older Asian women. 

Voters across the political spectrum support strengthening and expanding Social Security benefits to help beneficiaries keep up with rising costs and to guarantee that millions of people can retire with dignity. Today we celebrate the importance of Social Security in this country over the past 88 years while also reminding people why strengthening it will ensure the financial security of those who need it the most.