Disability, Retirement, Survivors

Celebrating Social Security and Building on Its Proven Success

September 3, 2015 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: September 3, 2015

A group of diverse people join hands in cooperation.Social Security has transformed the nation. Before its enactment, growing old was something to be feared.  People worked as long as they could, but when they grew old or became disabled, they invariably lost their jobs and had no choice but to move in with their children. If that was impossible, they literally went to the poorhouse.  At the time Social Security was enacted, every state but New Mexico had poorhouses. The vast majority of poorhouse residents had once been independent workers.  Also, when wage earners died, there was often insufficient income for children to remain with their widowed parents and siblings.But Social Security has changed all of that.  Today, the wages and salaries of nearly all workers are insured by Social Security against loss as the result of death, disability, or old age.  Retirees, widow(er)s, children who have lost parents, our soldiers wounded in combat, and other working Americans who have become disabled are among the nearly 60 million beneficiaries who receive Social Security’s guaranteed, monthly income.

Social Security works so well and is so popular because it embodies the best of American and religious values — rewarding hard work, taking responsibility for ourselves and our families, honoring our parents, caring for our neighbors, and managing our resources prudently and responsibly.  By law, Social Security cannot pay benefits unless it has sufficient income to cover all costs — without a penny of borrowing.  According to the most recent Trustees Report, Social Security ran a surplus of $25 billion last year alone and has an accumulated surplus of $2.8 trillion.

Thanks to dedicated, hard-working civil servants, Social Security is extremely efficient.  It spends less than one penny of every dollar on administration.  The rest is paid in benefits.  It is also extremely affordable.  Social Security’s actuaries project that at the end of this century, it will cost only 6.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product, a much lower percentage than what many other countries pay on their counterpart Social Security programs today.  It is 95 percent funded over the next 25 years; 88 percent funded over the next fifty years.

Its one shortcoming is that its benefits are extremely modest by virtually any measure.   That is why a growing number of elected leaders and Social Security experts are proposing plans to expand those modest benefits, while ensuring that all benefits can be paid over the long term.  As the wealthiest nation in the world, at the wealthiest moment in our history, we can certainly afford to expand Social Security’s modest benefits.

Whether we, as a nation, decide to expand Social Security’s benefits, keep them at their scheduled levels, or cut them is most definitely not a matter of affordability.  Rather, that choice is a matter of values and priorities.

Note: In honor of Labor Day, we have invited Maya MacGuineas and Nancy Altman as  guest bloggers on Social Security Matters.  We thank them for taking the time to share their narratives with our followers and allowing us to showcase the diversity of individuals in support of Social Security on this important holidayHave a wonderful Labor Day Weekend!

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About the Author

Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works, and Chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition

President of Social Security Works, and Chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition


  1. Rafi c.

    Thanks for the important information. Stay home.

  2. Emma @.

    Hi Nancy, Thank you for this useful article on social security. my site: https://massagempire.com/

  3. Nail P.

    Nowadays Social Security is very important. I need this for my entire life especially when I will be work and rest in the house or my office with a recliner chair and sleep on with the reading books. My favorite site is: http://bestofoffice.com/

  4. Victor

    I would suggest you to stop giving money to healthy people under age 65 as there are many fraudulent claims that are too easily approved.

    Social security is an important aspect and should be focused on those who are meaningful to our society.
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  5. Dement T.

    Social Security is important part of our life. I need this for my entire life specially wen I will be old and rest in house with recliner chair and sleep on with reading book. My favorite site is http://www.chairsadvisor.com/

  6. Eric W.

    Social Security is something really plays an important role, first in the form of whose you work their entire life serving the country by doing their work and second when some unfortunate death of financial responsible happened in both cases and many others it is crucial that we support them!
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  7. Sharon D.

    Question? How secure is sending my credit card number and info for payment of my medicare premium on the form provided by Medicare?
    Thank you.
    Sharon Donovan

  8. Teresa

    If Social Security is so effective, then why is everyone being denied? I am in terrible pain and disability, the doctors even tried to help. The doctors told me I would never be able to work again. Why was I denied when I haven’t been able to work for three years? I have three children to support with no help and am getting ready to lose my home. My state has granted me disability medicaid and says I am 100% disabled within three months. I fought Social Security for years. You should be ashamed of yourself for even pretending that you are helping people. I paid in for decades, am completely unable to work, yet !am denied. What a joke

  9. Jessica

    This is Jessica’s mom, just typing her question out for her.

  10. Jessica

    Hi I have a question that no one seems to be able to answer. I’m on disability & supplemental security income, my dad whom lived in another state was also on Disability & I’m not sure if he received supplemental security income or not. I’m just wondering if there is any money I may qualify for because of his untimely death? Thank You so much.

    • Ray F.

      We are sorry for the loss of your father Jessica, but you ask a very good question. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit is only payable to the disabled individual, there are no children’s or survivors benefits payable. If your father was collecting benefits under the regular disability program (Social Security Disability Insurance – SSDI), you may be eligible for benefits as a “Disabled Adult Child”. However, your disability must have started before age 22 and you must meet other requirements. For specific questions and to check if you qualify for additional benefits contact your local office, or call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday but you will generally have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. Thanks!

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