A Historical View
Social security, the federal retirement system, is one of the most popular government programs in United State?s history. Today, Social Security benefits are the backbone of the nation's retirement income system. The long road to the successful development of social security began in 1935. Before 1935, very few workers received job pensions. Those workers that were covered never received benefits because they were not guaranteed.
Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the original Social Security Act. It comprised of two services: a Social Security retirement benefit that applied only to workers, and a welfare program for the elderly called Old Age Assistance. Social Security benefits were not paid until 1942 to allow for a period of partial forward funding. The retirement benefit service was funded by a two percent tax on the first $3000 of payroll earnings, 1 percent form employers and 1 percent from workers. In 1939, Social Security was amended to include coverage to dependents of workers who died. The payroll tax income was also set aside in a separate trust fund.
Social Security gained national commitment in 1950 when the Old Age Assistance program was phased out. Benefits were increased by 77 percent and the payroll tax rate was increased to 6.5 percent on a phased ? in basis. This increment was partly a response to an expansion in private pensions that were being won by unions in collective bargaining agreements. The pensions, usually, served as a supplement to social security benefits. Employers supported Social Security increases because they were considered more economical than private pensions. In order to increase Social Security benefits, payroll tax cuts were transferred to workers by lowering wages. In addition to the increases, more groups of workers were covered by Social Security benefits and taxation from 1950-1972. By 1960, seventy eight percent of workers were insured. Nearly universal coverage was reached in 1965. In 1956 disability insurance was added. Women were, also, allowed to retire at 62 with benefits equal to 80 percent of what they would have received at age 65. Men were offered a similar early-retirement benefit program in 1961.
By the mid 1960?s, Social Security had demonstrated success by achieving its primary goal of reducing the percentage of elderly living in poverty. New legislation that included Medicare and Medicaid added to the success of Social Security by increasing the tax base for Social Security and raising benefits by 7 percent, by allowing retirement recipients to work without losing benefits, and by amplifying the definition of disability. In 1969 benefits were raised by 15 percent. In 1972 they were raised by 20 percent. They were, also, indexed to increase at the rate of inflation.
In 1972 the United States suffered an economic downturn. Legislators worked on...