7 Things to Celebrate about Social Security on its 80th Birthday

Tomorrow, August 14, 2015, marks the Social Security program’s 80th year providing retirement and disability benefits to workers and their families as well as survivor benefits to the spouses and dependents of deceased workers. Here are just seven reasons to celebrate Social Security on its birthday and every day:

1. Millions of Americans can depend on Social Security.

In 2014, some 59 million people – or about 1 in 6 Americans – received Social Security benefits. And though we’ve endured economic recessions, government shutdowns, and other crises, Social Security has never missed a payment.

2. Social Security is an essential source of income for millions of Americans.

In 2012, nearly 2 in 3 people over the age of 65 relied on Social Security benefits for at least half of their income. And 1 in 3 relied on benefits for nearly all (90 percent or more) of their income.

3. Social Security is an excellent anti-poverty program.

Without Social Security, 42.6 percent of people over 65 would have been poor in 2013. Social Security benefits brought that percentage down to 9.5 percent. And benefits also lifted more than 6.2 million non-elderly adults and nearly 1.2 million kids out of poverty in 2013, making it one of the most effective anti-poverty programs we have.

4. Social Security is efficient.

Since 1989, just 1 percent of Social Security’s total annual cost is spent on administration – the other 99 percent goes to the millions of people receiving benefits every month.

5. Social Security has a designated trust fund.

Workers and employers each pay 6.2 percent of earnings up to $118,500 directly into Social Security’s trust fund. And currently, that trust fund holds a substantial $2.8 trillion.

6. Americans want Social Security.

Consistently, polling over the years has shown that Americans not only want Social Security to stick around – they actually expect to rely on it when they reach old age.

7. Americans want to expand Social Security.

Recent polling shows that when faced with hard choices about Social Security's future, Americans would increase the Social Security payroll tax on all workers and those with higher earnings in order to preserve benefits for current beneficiaries. What's more: nearly 3 in 4 people think we should consider increasing benefits. 

For more about Social Security, check out:

  • Our new infographic featuring facts about Social Security
  • A recent publication featuring highlights of the Social Security trustees report
  • Our Social Insurance and Earned Benefits tipsheet