DemDaily: Saving Social Security

August 14, 2018

The Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program, otherwise know as Social Security, turns 83 years-old today. Its future, however, like many of the benefits for working Americans under this Administration, is in real danger.

Our nation's largest social welfare and social insurance program, Social Security was created in 1935 as a part of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in response to the economic depression of the 1930s.  The goal was to provide an economic safety net and source of income for elderly and disabled US citizens and their dependents. 

How It Works
Since its inception, benefits are administered by the US Social Security Administration (SSA), an independent agency of the U.S. federal government.

The Social Security Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 14, 1935

To qualify, legal residents working in the US are assigned a Social Security number and are taxed on their wages, based on their earnings.

The program is funded primarily through these payroll taxes, known as the Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (FICA) or Self Employed Contributions Act Tax (SECA).

FICA establishes a maximum Social Security payment but does not have an overall limit. Once the maximum contribution to Social Security is reached, any remaining contributions go toward Medicare. Employers and employees are both required to make these payments.

The tax payments are collected by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and are distributed into two federal programs: Social Security and Medicare, the latter of which provides public health coverage to seniors over age 65.

An individual can collect the accrued benefits once they reach "retirement age," which is between 65 and 67 years-old, depending on the year in which an individual was born.

In addition to retirement benefits, Social Security also provides a benefit called Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which provides additional income to disabled children or adults who have little or no income because of their disability.

The number of social security recipients has more than doubled between 1970 and 2015, from 25.7 million to 66 million total beneficiaries. The program now accounts for approximately 21% of the US government's expenditures.

Social Security Today
The Social Security program is an indispensable part of Americans' long-term security, but recent projections regarding its solvency have led to heated debate on its future funding.

In June the Social Security and Medicare trustees projected that the Medicare Trust Fund will go bankrupt by 2026 and that, due to shifting demographic trends, the Social Security Trust will be exhausted by 2034.

Although proponents of privatizing the program use the numbers to advocate for their cause, the legitimacy of the projections are widely disputed by experts.

Without Social Security, an estimated 22.1 million Americans would be living in poverty. Although most of those whom Social Security keeps out of poverty are elderly, nearly a third are under age 65, including 1.1 million children. 
-- Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, October, 2016

Under Donald Trump and the Republican administration, proposals have included everything from privatization and increasing the retirement age, to slashing Social Security benefits and gutting the program's protections forinjured and disabled workers.

We cannot afford to lose the economic benefits that these programs provide to our communities and our citizens.

The election is in 83 days. Know the facts. Make your vote count.

Alliance For Retired Americans: SS & Medicare Fact Sheet


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Kimberly Scott

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Sources:, Ballotpedia, Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, Wiki

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