Social Security: The Foundation of Economic Security

March 21, 2016 • By

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Last Updated: August 19, 2021

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt established Social Security in 1935, he saw the program as a fundamental way to advance economic fairness and social justice. Social Security has grown and improved to fulfill FDR’s vision, and we have just completed a year celebrating the 80th anniversary of this important program.

Today, Social Security’s insurance protection is the foundation of retirement security for almost all American workers and families. The average Social Security benefit is modest – about $1,340 a month – yet this benefit is the main income for most seniors. For two in three seniors who receive it, Social Security is more than half of their total income. That includes one in three where it makes up all or almost all of their income. Social Security is especially important for communities of color, women, and other vulnerable groups.

At the American Society on Aging’s Aging in America conference on March 23, I will be honored to share vital information about “The State of Seniors in Poverty,” along with the distinguished Kathy Greenlee of the Administration for Community Living.

For example, many people know that 10 percent of seniors, or 4.6 million individuals, live in poverty. Yet many don’t know just how important Social Security is in preventing seniors from falling into poverty. If today’s seniors had to rely on only their income from sources other than Social Security, fully 4 in 10 would be poor. Social Security is our nation’s most effective poverty prevention program; its retirement, disability, and survivor benefits keep 21 million Americans out of poverty, including 14 million seniors. So, keeping Social Security strong is one of the best ways that we, as a nation, can address senior poverty and promote economic security for all.

“But,” you might ask, “what about the future of Social Security?” Actually, Social Security’s finances are far stronger than many people realize. The program as a whole is sufficiently funded until 2034, and after that, it is about three-quarters fully financed. This is a good time to begin a national conversation about how to keep Social Security strong for the very long term – and there are many options available to lawmakers. According to recent public opinion research, including studies conducted by the Pew Research Center and the National Academy of Social Insurance, Americans understand Social Security’s enduring value and support preserving benefits for future generations.

Social Security has had a very successful first 80 years, and I am confident about its long-term future. We at the Social Security Administration look forward to the next 80 years, and beyond, of continuing to serve the American people and building on FDR’s vision of promoting economic security and fairness for the American people.

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About the Author

Virginia P. Reno, Deputy Commissioner, Retirement and Disability Policy

Virginia P. Reno, Deputy Commissioner for Retirement and Disability Policy, Social Security Administration


  1. Kathy

    I am on ss disability and recently turned old enough to draw full retirement. Can I do this? Do I need to apply for full SS?

  2. Richard o.

    I’ve created my own income and think it’s not right I can’t collect social Security because it looks like I make money .I earned my social security I should have the right too it if I show 300,000,but I don’t i show around 23,000to30,000 they said can’t make more then 28,000?how should I know I own a restaurant and try to zero out and juggle with credit cards.!I need my money?

  3. Sherri L.

    I have been working since I was 14 years old -non stop and I am 53 now- still working and would like to retire at 65…I will have been working 51 years –having Social security deducted from my paycheck for 51 years!!! And yet my ss amount at retirement is pathetic…WHY… How is this possible…..It is disgusting —SHAME on our Government.

  4. basics o.

    I do not leave a leave a response, but after reading a few of the remarks on this page. I do have a couple of questions for you if it’s okay. Could it be only me or do a few of the comments come across like they are left by brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are posting at other places, I would like to keep up with you. Could you list of every one of your shared sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  5. why u.

    I hardly leave responses, however i did some searching and wound up here . And I actually do have some questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be just me or does it give the impression like a few of these responses come across like left by brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are posting on additional online social sites, I’d like to follow anything new you have to post. Could you list of all of all your community sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

  6. Gary

    Thanks for this forum. My question is pertaining to how Medicare and Medicaid coordinate the Part B. I could care less until my Insurance company started a denial [ Select Health of South Carolina Inc. [ There is also an LLC – same bunch ] OK The company denied a request from my Doctor for a Constant Glucose Monitoring System. The Ins – shot it down saying that was too vague. My Doctor said ok – rewrote the Prescription to request the Dexcom G5. The company then gave a prior approval – then denied it hours later. I was able to receive the 1 part of the 3 part system before SH reversed their denial. It gets very strange from there – WHAT I WANT FROM YOU is clarification on how this sort of thing is paid for. I am poor – I need help in figuring this how because the insurance company [ Select Health of SC Inc ] says they are unable to figure out how it’s paid for and they don’t have a ‘vendor contract’ with a DEXCOM distributor. Please help me out with just an explanation of how Medicaid and Medicare work together on this. This went all the way to the Medicare level and the ADJ didn’t even know if Medicare or Medicaid paid for things. How can an Insurance Company say they just won’t get a contract to fulfill a legal request for an item Medicare/Medicaid pays for when they’re M/M insurance company?

  7. Oscar T.

    I wonder why there is sooo many people benefiting with SS BENEFITS WITHOUT EVER HAVING CONTRIBUTED TO OUR SYSTEM?????

  8. Paris H.

    “Great writing, thanks_for the information, cheers!”

    • Ray F.

      Thanks for your comment, Paris!

  9. Mary V.

    I do not know if you can respond to my Question-
    I filed for Social Security in my State of Residence –
    I had a administrative hearing in Dec- 2017- The Courts Said it would be about 3-4 Months- it seems it
    is taking longer than Usual- to get the decision :::- is there any thing I can do ???- is there a Compliant Process- ::::::::it could be 8 months before I would even obtain my money- if the Claim is approved.

    State of Residence is Ohio-

  10. John J.

    this is access to my Facebook alert foundation is here I am send assistants … can’t trust no one…!!!

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