The Social Security Act

The Social Security Act was passed by Congress in 1935. It was in the midst of the Great Depression and the U.S. government was concerned about how the nation's senior citizens would be cared for without being a burden to the government. Prior to the Act being passed, five million Americans joined Townsend Clubs. These were organizations promoted by Dr. Francis Everett Townsend and its members called for a government pension of $200 a month for every American citizen over the age of 60. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set up a committee to review options and this led to the Social Security Act.

The act said that employers and employees are required to share in the payment of social security tax for benefits for retired Americans age 65 or above. That is just one of the taxes that workers see removed from their paycheck before they are paid their earnings. This money is then given to eligible Americans as a monthly payment during their lifetime and then, at their death, their families may receive a one-time death benefit. The amount of money that someone receives depends, in part, on how much money you paid to social security as a worker. The government determines the amount you receive by looking at the 35 years with your highest amounts of income.

Over time, the Social Security Act has been expanded. Disabled people, unemployed workers, and dependent children may also receive some form of social security. It is important to keep in mind that social security is not intended to be the only form of income that American senior citizens receive. In many cases, it amounts to just a few hundred dollars per month. Currently, over 50 million Americans receive some form of social security benefits.


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