by Stacey Dembo, Law Offices of Stacey J. Dembo
Tomorrow, we celebrate the 80th anniversary of Social Security. The Social Security Act (SSA) was signed into law by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on August 14, 1935. In his public statement that day, FDR expressed concern for “young people [who] have come to wonder what would be their lot when they came to old age” and those who were working but did not have job security. He acknowledged that “we can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life,” but stated that he hoped the Act would prevent older Americans from becoming impoverished.
Few Americans working today can remember a time when Social Security wasn’t part of the social fabric of America. The Social Security program has expanded in important ways since it was initially enacted by FDR in 1935. For example, in 1939, benefits for dependent survivors of wage earners were added. And in 1956, disability insurance benefits were added. Today, as in the past, millions of Americans rely on these programs for income in the event of their own retirement, disability or death of a family wage earner.
Because Social Security is a vital part of our social fabric, we cannot afford to take its future for granted. As we celebrate the 80th anniversary of Social Security, it is time to ensure that the Social Security programs remain strong for the next generation. Now more than ever, as an increasing number of workers approach retirement, we cannot afford to jeopardize the stability that Social Security provides to millions of families. Further, the risk of becoming disabled or dying before reaching retirement age is greater than many realize. About one-third of workers will become disabled or die before reaching the full retirement age. Social Security offers vital protection to nearly all American workers and their families so that if they face serious disability, illness or injury before reaching retirement age, they will receive a monthly benefit. And, in the event of death, it provides some financial protection to the surviving family members.