The History of the Social Security System

In the years before the Great Depression, not very much thought had been given to the economic well-being of the country’s elderly, nor about the economic health of the country as a whole. But the Great Depression changed all that, and it changed the way the government looked at the population of this great nation. On August 14, 1935, the Social Security Act was passed into law, and this country would be forever changed.

What did the Social Security Act mean for the average American when the bill passed? It was the age of the “New Deal,” and Franklin Roosevelt was determined to leave this country in better shape than when he arrived.

And he did. Today, Social Security is often touted by the Social Security Administration as the most successful domestic government program, and it is. But it is also one teetering on the brink of trouble; massive trouble.

Social Security Funding

Today, Social Security is on the border of reaching a level of adequate funding; if you plan to collect security benefits after the year 2017, the problem may turn out to be a serious one. Why are we experiencing the shortfall? There are several contributors to the problem, and none of them can be identified as the primary contributor.

The History of the Social Security System

A declining birthrate, and increased lifespan, and an ever-widening gap between the poorer wage earners of the nation and the higher wage earners have left the administration for the funding problem.

In fact, according to projections made by the trustees of the Social Security Administration, the fund will begin spending more than it takes in around the year 2015 to 2017. Past those years, the amount collected will only pay about two-thirds of the benefits guaranteed to retirees, survivors, and the disabled. Not a pretty picture for those of us born after 1959, uh?


Is the problem as bad as we are led to believe? It all depends on whose side you are listening to. Proponents of the privatization of Social Security say the problem is tremendous; still, others contend that with the current growth of the US economy, there’s no need for the proposition of privatization of Social Security funding.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is expected to announce adjustments to the Consumer Price Index that is used to calculate, Social Securities annual cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA. The result of this change is that early next year, the Social Security Trustees are supposed to report that Social Security’s long-term actuarial deficit is less than it was just one year ago. Where does this leave the advocates of privatization? Not in a very good position.

There will be and must be, concessions on made on behalf of American citizens. The normal retirement age or NRA will surely be extended even further, possibly reaching into a retiree’s 70th birthday. The tax cap that is a traditional part of Social Security could be eliminated, just as it was with the Medicare tax cap in 1993.

Tax cap

In fact, in light of the ever-extending gap between low-wage earners and high wage earners, it would be one of the most common-sense approaches to the increase needed in social security funding. In eliminating the social security tax cap, it is perhaps the most natural way, and the most easily factored way to remain solvent forever.

If the tax cap were to be lifted, we would never have to worry about funding social security. You don’t hear too much about this option, because many of your wealthier individuals don’t want to pay social security past the point that is now required.

Advocates of the lift argue that if the lower wage-earning Americans must pay tax all year, higher wage earners should also be required to contribute continually. After all, they’re going to be eligible for higher monthly premiums, why shouldn’t they be needed to continue in efforts to help fund the program? If interested in reading more, read this article on common tax filing mistakes.