NARRATOR: Social Security is a system where people pay
an extra tax on their payrolls and wages
to fund government assistance programs and benefits.
Today, money from Social Security payments
provides pensions to the elderly,
the disabled, the unemployed, and their dependents.
But Social Security hasn't always existed in America.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
changed all of that when he came into office in 1933.
FDR was not only tasked with helping Americans survive
the Great Depression, but also with figuring out
how to improve the lives of people in our rapidly
How could America provide its citizens
with a social safety net if an economic downturn
were to happen again?
Upon taking office, he announced a New Deal, a series
of programs and projects that aimed
to provide relief for Americans and institute
crucial economic reforms.
However, critics complained that these measures
were too conservative and temporary in nature.
A variety of social safety net proposals
gained broad popular support across the nation.
So in 1935, FDR announced a second New Deal,
which included the Social Security Act,
signed into law on August 15.
Workers pay into pension funds.
And once they retire, they receive payments
back from that same fund in proportion
to their own payroll deductions over the years.
Implementing Social Security was not an easy task.
To secure the system against attacks
from its plentiful enemies in the Republican Party,
the Roosevelt administration set up the system as an insurance,
rather than a welfare program.
Every citizen was assigned a Social Security account number.
During the remainder of the 20th century,
Social Security went through many changes
as the act was amended several times.
The 1939 amendments added dependent benefits
for the spouse and minor children of a retired worker
and also survivors' benefits to be
paid to the family of a covered worker in the event
of premature death.
In 1950 and 1954, Congress made farm
and domestic service workers eligible for Social Security.
In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower
signed into law amendments to the Social Security Act,
which established the Social Security
Disability Insurance Program.
Under President Johnson, the amendments in 1965
created Medicare, a basic program of hospital insurance
for persons aged 65 and older.
In 1983, under Reagan, further amendments
made Social Security payouts subject to taxes
and began to gradually raise the age of retirement.
To this day, Social Security remains a central part
of many elderly Americans' lives,
allowing them to feel some economic security
in their old age.
The proportion of retirees to workers on payrolls
increases as Americans live longer lifespans, leading
to increasing debate over the viability
of Social Security, the centerpiece
of FDR's New Deal legacy.