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Social Security Works For America

By       Message Alex Lawson     Permalink
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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.

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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.

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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.

Also posted at America's Future, The Seminal and Daily Kos

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

The mission of Social Security Works is to protect and improve the economic status of disadvantaged and at-risk populations, and, in so doing, to promote social justice for current and future generations of children as well as young, middle-aged and older adults.


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Alex Lawson is the Communications Director for Social Security Works. Lawson comes to Social Security Works from the Campaign for America's Future, where he worked on the Health Care for America Now campaign. While at the Campaign for America's (more...)

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