Celebrating Social Security and Building on Its Proven Success
by Nancy Altman
Social Security has transformed the nation. Before its enactment, growing old was something to be feared. People worked as long as they could, but when they grew old or became disabled, they invariably lost their jobs and had no choice but to move in with their children. If that was impossible, they literally went to the poorhouse. At the time Social Security was enacted, every state but New Mexico had poorhouses. The vast majority of poorhouse residents had once been independent workers. Also, when wage earners died, there was often insufficient income for children to remain with their widowed parents and siblings.But Social Security has changed all of that. Today, the wages and salaries of nearly all workers are insured by Social Security against loss as the result of death, disability, or old age. Retirees, widow(er)s, children who have lost parents, our soldiers wounded in combat, and other working Americans who have become disabled are among the nearly 60 million beneficiaries who receive Social Security’s guaranteed, monthly income.