Eighty years ago today, President Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act, creating one of our nation’s most important social programs. Since 1935, Social Security has kept millions of working Americans out of poverty, allowing them to live with dignity through the difficulties of old age or the loss of spouses and parents. Today, the program lifts nearly 15 million seniors and 1.2 million children out of poverty.
For years, retirees have relied on a combination of Social Security, employer pensions, and other savings, to support their retirement. Over the past few decades, the number of employers who provide pensions have decreased. Additionally, stagnant wages and wealth inequality mean many working people are unable to save enough during their work-life to support them throughout retirement.
A recent report from the U.S. General Accounting Office shows that across the nation, 29% of people age 55 or older have neither an employer pension nor any type of retirement savings. North Carolina is no exception. Between 2001 and 2013, the percentage of employees without employer provided pensions rose continuously. Today, more than 60% of working North Carolinians over 18 have no employer pensions, and one in three retirees depends on Social Security benefits as their only source of retirement income.
More than ever before, Social Security benefits are a crucial staple in retirement security.
Social Security does much more than fund retirement. The program supports 11 million disabled workers and 2 million young survivors of deceased workers. It is a keystone in our nation’s social safety net.
While critics paint Social Security as costly and unsustainable, the reality is that Social Security pays for itself and does not contribute to deficit spending. Moreover, there are simple solutions to maintain the program for years to come. The Social Security Expansion Act, for example, would increase the income level subject to Social Security tax and close tax loopholes, meaning that Social Security would not only survive for years to come, but would be able to provide greater benefits to meet the rising needs of our most vulnerable.
On it’s 80th birthday, lets work to strengthen, rather than weaken, one of the most proven and successful programs this nation has to offer.
For more information on the impacts of Social Security, please see Policy Basics: Top Ten Facts about Social Security.