Editorials

EDITORIAL: Happy Birthday Social Security

On this day, 80 years ago, on Aug. 14, 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. Times have certainly changed in 80 years. In 1935, the life expectancy for the average American was slightly older than 60. A child born in 2005 is expected to live 77.9 years.

Other things have changed as well. Initially, the Social Security Board had no staff or budget. Now the Social Security Administration’s budget request in 2015 was $12.5 billion and employs 60,000 people. By 1936, the Social Security Board had 2,000 employees servicing 26 million wage earners. Grace Dorothy Owen of Concord, New Hampshire, while not the first to receive a Social Security number, did receive the lowest number: 001-01-0001.

On Jan. 31, 1940, Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont received the first monthly Social Security retirement check of $22.54, though she wasn’t the first to receive a benefit. According to the Social Security Administration, that honor went to Ernest Ackerman, he had nickel withheld from his wages for the one day he worked under the new program. In return, he received a one-time, lump-sum retirement payment of 17 cents.

The debate about Social Security is far from over. How long it will last has been an open question for years. Some say it is doomed in just a few years if changes are not made, and there are others who discount those theories. But there are a few things that are concrete -- the impact Social Security has had on the American society during the past 80 years.

According to the Social Security Administration:

Since 1935, Social Security has collected $18 trillion and paid out $15.2 trillion in benefits and administrative costs.

In fiscal year 2014, Social Security processed almost 204 million W-2 forms electronically and another 27 million manually.

Two in three elderly beneficiaries rely on Social Security for half or more of their total income. For 1 in 3, Social Security is all, or almost all of his or her income.

Nearly seven million children receive part of their family income from Social Security. Many receive benefits as children of deceased or disabled parents.

Nearly one million veterans who served in the U.S. armed forces receive Social Security disability benefits.

Of every $1 Social Security pays out, only one penny goes for administering the program for 59 million Americans.

What does the future hold for Social Security? That is impossible for us to say, however, for the time being, it is the third rail of politics that is approached by all very carefully. When every American, particularly those of voting age have had a Social Security card since birth, it is an institution that millions of Americans have come to depend on and part of the fabric of America. life.

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