A Look Back at the History of Social Security

Social Security has been a cornerstone of retirement security in the United States since it was first established in 1935. The program has gone through several changes over the decades, but its goal of providing a secure retirement for American citizens has remained the same.

How Social Security has Changed Over the Years

The original Social Security Act was signed into law in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and provided benefits to retired workers aged 65 or older. By 1937, the program was extended to provide benefits for survivors of deceased workers, dependents, and the disabled.

In 1939, Congress amended the Social Security Act to provide for cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) to Social Security benefits, ensuring that the real value of the benefits would not diminish over time due to inflation. Then, in 1956, Congress enacted disability insurance, a major expansion of Social Security that allowed individuals who were unable to work due to disability to receive benefits.

In the 1960s, Congress further amended the Social Security Act to provide for Medicare and Medicaid benefits. This allowed elderly Americans to receive health care coverage regardless of their income level.

The most recent major expansion of Social Security came in 1983, when Congress passed the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) which allowed for automatic cost-of-living adjustments and extended the coverage of Social Security to more individuals.

Today, Social Security remains an important part of retirement security for many Americans. It provides a guaranteed source of income to those who have retired or become disabled, as well as survivors of deceased workers.

The Seniors Center

At The Seniors Center, we’re fighting to protect the future of this vital program through advocating for legislation to strengthen Social Security and ensure its long-term solvency. Learn more about our plan to fix Social Security solvency today—and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook so you never miss an update.