For the past 79 years, Social Security has maintained its place as an American cornerstone. Secure as its foundation is, Social Security has also been at the forefront of change. As the face of America has evolved over the course of the last eight decades, so too has Social Security changed along with the needs of the nation.
On Aug. 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said that Social Security “represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete. It is, in short, a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time, provide the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness.”
The Social Security Act that President Roosevelt signed that day covered a limited number of workers in commerce and industry and provided only retirement benefits.
Today, Social Security is much more than a retirement program. It provides benefits to disabled individuals and their families and benefits to widows, widowers and the minor children of deceased workers. Supplemental Security Income helps aged and disabled people who have low income and limited resources. We have work incentives to help those people with disabilities go to work. Social Security even provides extra help with Medicare prescription drug costs. In so many ways, Social Security benefits America.
Social Security works because it is an enduring agreement between generations. It is arguably our government’s most important program, and quite possibly the strongest expression of community our nation has. For 79 years, Social Security has made a tremendous and positive difference in the lives of millions, and this is certainly something to celebrate.
Learn more about Social Security’s rich history at www.socialsecurity.gov/history. Become a part of Social Security’s history by choosing to do business with us online at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices.
Brenda Brown is a public affairs specialist for the Social Security Administration based in Fayetteville, N.C.