For many nearing retirement without much in the bank, there is comfort in knowing that even if they have not been able to save cash for their later years, the government has been doing it for them.
It’s nearly impossible to understand the importance of Social Security unless you or someone close to you relies on it.
According to local Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, who visited town last week, roughly one-third of seniors depend on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income. This means that a third of the older men and women in our community literally would not be able to live day-to-day life without it.
Some might argue that retirees’ lack of savings is perhaps their own fault. On occasion, that might be the case. But to receive Social Security benefits, a person must have been in the working world at least 40 quarter-years, all the while contributing to the program. Thus, at a base level, taxpayers receive their own money back from the government.
That same model has sustained the program 75 years. Employees from generation to generation pay for their elders’ benefits. In July, more than $4.1 billion in Social Security benefits were issued to retirees and their families. Much of that money was spent on simple sustenance — food, electricity, medication. The money was directed back in the economy, not left sitting in a bank account, gathering interest.
A second, sometimes overlooked part of Social Security is the issuance of Social Security numbers. In 1936 and 1937, more than 35 million Social Security cards were issued in the first batch. Since then, every American is entitled to receive one. The number has become a valuable tool to identify citizens by something more than their name and date of birth. It’s used to track credit history, government services and taxes and is required for many types of applications. The unique number might seem like a shackle at times, but it serves as the best way to hold a person accountable for his or her actions and decisions, both good and bad.
Social Security has been a boon to citizens for 75 years and we hope the program — modified as needed —
continues for generations.