The underlying reason that the Social Security Act was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935 was in large part due to the dire circumstances that the Great Depression had on so many, including seniors during that eight-year period (1930–1938). (The suicide mortality rate among seniors was also significant during that same period.)
The president said that “the Act was intended on having some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.” And, for those interested: Wikipedia provides the history of the SSA at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Insurance_Contributions_Act_tax.
From 1937 to 1949, no Social Security deductions were taken from the pay of American workers. It was from 1949 to 1979 that 0.5 percent of a person's salary was finally paid into the fund by the employee and the employer matched it. Then in 1980, it was raised to 3 percent ... and remained at that rate until I retired in at the age of 62.
What was a real surprise to me was that my first three Social Security checks equaled an amount greater than what I'd actually put into the fund! (This holds true for just about every senior living in my building here at Stryker Homes)
Today's workers are contributing a heck of a lot more into the fund than we did. Most are having 6.2 percent taken out of their pay and their employer is also contributing an additional 6.2 percent. (It's obvious that today's folks are not only having to put in the needed funds into their own retirement ... but they're also paying ours ... and for that we (seniors) should be saying, “A BIG THANKS!”
Perhaps more seniors might want to find out what they actually paid into the fund and then realize also how fortunate that we also have the relief that Depression-era seniors didn't have!
Anyone can request a copy of their Social Security statement from the agency by going on the Internet at: www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement or calling (800) 772-1213.
Joyce Hackett Smith-Moore