Social Security Works for America

(7PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

In honor of the 75th anniversary of Social Security, we are kicking off a blog series called “Social Security Works.” Every post will examine one aspect of how Social Security works.

For our first installment we will examine how Social Security works for America as a whole.

Since President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act at approximately 3:30pm on August 14, 1935, it has provided economic security for millions of Americans.

Currently, the Social Security Administration provides benefits to:

• More than 52.5 million total beneficiaries including:

       • 9.7 million disabled persons under age 65 and dependent family members

       • 6.4 million survivors of deceased workers

       • 36.4 million retired workers and their families

The graph below shows the number of people receiving Social Security benefits at the end of calendar quarters, beginning with data for March 1970.

To these millions of beneficiaries Social Security has paid out trillions of dollars:

• In 2008 the Social Security Administration distributed benefits totaling a little over a trillion dollars

• Since 1937, over  $15 trillion has been paid out to beneficiaries  

But the truly remarkable thing is that while providing trillions in economic security to millions of Americans, the Social Security program has built up a huge surplus. The graph below shows the build up of $2.5 trillion in assets since 1987.

By 2023, the surplus is estimated to grow to $4.3 trillion.

There is no Social Security crisis; Social Security works for America.

This blog series is a joint project of America’s Future and Social Security Works.

Also posted at The Seminal and Daily Kos


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  1. I am extremely interested to hear people’s stories about Social Security

    • dkmich on March 7, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Obama is going to give away Medicare and Social Security.  It takes a Democrat to screw a Democrat.    

  2. I consider this an enormously important subject matter.

    Just think, if the feds ever paid back all the money from the S.S. funds they have helped themselves to over so many years — the pot would be grander yet.  And, as you know, the government’s role is one of a fiduciary one, with administrative costs paid to them.  These are our monies, not the government’s (although, I’ve been told there is a provision that allows for “borrowing” from those funds, but “borrowing” is one thing, outright “thieving” is another) — funds made up of contributions made by us and our employer(s) over the many years Americans have worked.

    There is a grave danger now.  It seems there’s much talk about “fiscal responsibility” and “entitlement reform” pertaining to Social Security and Medicare.  Yep, in fact, Peter G. Peterson, an 82-year old Republican billionaire, believes the elderly are a drain on society (as though we have not earned our right to live beyond an age certain).  He believes that the funds awaiting baby-boomers in Social Security, should be used to pay back some of our government deficits and he’s putting a lot of money into this campaign, through his foundation, and is at Obama’s ear.

    The Nation

    Obama Will Fight with Us to Quash the Campaign to Loot Social Security — Right?

    By William Greider

    Behind closed doors, powerful interests are pushing Obama to tap Social Security to pay for bank bailouts. How he responds will shape his presidency.

    February 14, 2009  

    Governing elites in Washington and Wall Street have devised a fiendishly clever “grand bargain” they want President Obama to embrace in the name of “fiscal responsibility.” The government, they argue, having spent billions on bailing out the banks, can recover its costs by looting the Social Security system. They are also targeting Medicare and Medicaid. . . .


    AFL-CIO / Creative CommonsPhoto

    Credit: Flickr Creative Commons / By Ellen Hodgson Brown

    Wall Street Took Your House and Your Retirement, Now They’re After Your Social Security

    Wall Street tycoon Pete Peterson wants to bring IMF-style economic insanity to the U.S. The scary part? He might get away with it.

    March 5, 2010      

    In addition to mandatory private health insurance premiums, we may soon be hit with a “mandatory savings” tax and other belt-tightening measures urged by the president’s new budget task force. These radical austerity measures are not only unnecessary, but will actually make matters worse. The push for “fiscal responsibility” is based on bad economics.

    When billionaires pledge a billion dollars to educate people to the evils of something, it is always good to peer closely at what they are up to. Hedge fund magnate Peter G. Peterson was formerly chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and head of the New York Federal Reserve. He is now senior chairman of Blackstone Group, which is in charge of dispersing government funds in the controversial AIG bailout, widely criticized as a government giveaway to banks. Peterson is also founder of the Peter Peterson Foundation, which has adopted the cause of imposing “fiscal responsibility” on Congress. He hired David M. Walker, former head of the Government Accounting Office, to spearhead a massive campaign to reduce the runaway federal debt, which the Peterson/Walker team blames on reckless government and consumer spending. The Foundation funded the movie “I.O.USA.” to amass popular support for their cause, which largely revolves around dismantling Social Security and Medicare benefits as a way to cut costs and return to “fiscal responsibility.”. . . . . (emphasis mine)

    As George Carlin, said “They want it all, baby, they want it all, and you know what, they’ll get it!

    I cannot think of anything more frightening for this country.  One is, many, many seniors would simply die without any means to adequately provide for themselves — as many Americans cannot adequately amass enough funds over their working years for retirement.

    There is NO security in this country whatsoever.  The one thing that has remained steadfast has been SOCIAL SECURITY — it is the one pillar afforded Americans, which they pay for, themselves.

    This is fast becoming a “fuck off and die” country!

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