An Overview of Social Security

While Social Security was instituted officially for all Americans in 1935 with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of the Social Security Act, there was an earlier form of a social security program in the North after the Civil War. Payments were issued to disabled Union veterans of the Civil War or the widows of these soldiers. Later on, this program included any disabled men who were Union veterans, whether or not they were injured in the war.

However, this program excluded any Confederate veterans or their families. In 1894, the expansive program of military pensions comprised more than a third of the federal government’s money. In the time of the Great Depression that began in 1929 and lasted a decade, the need to provide for the poor and the elderly became acutely apparent. In 1932, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed his concept of social insurance that later became the Social Security System of today. Under Roosevelt’s plan, workers contributed a small percentage of their pay to an aggregate account. After they retired, they could then draw money from this account to meet their expenses each month.

Since its inception, the Social Security Retirement System has been adjusted to deal with changes in the country’s economic situations and population. Widows and surviving dependents of workers are eligible to receive payments. Also, disability provisions have been added to the original program, and there is the Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) made to Social Security payments. Before they apply for social security benefits, individuals must meet specific requirements: Applicants must be a certain age and have at least 40 credits earned from paying into Social Security. When these requirements are met, individuals can contact their local offices of the Social Security Administration.

If they choose to do so, they can conveniently open an account online. People can start drawing their Social Security at age 62, although benefits will be reduced. They can also begin at age 65 or even 70. Benefits increase nearly eight percent for every year a person waits to apply for Social Security.

More information on Social Security benefits

For information on Social Security benefits and where to find a Social Security Office visit one of the following websites.