Social Security turns 80

Social Security turns 80

By: Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Eighty years ago, on August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. The new law guaranteed a basic income for retirees and, at the time, the unemployed.

Over the years, Social Security has expanded its safety net to provide benefits for retirees, people with disabilities and the chronically ill, and spouses and children of deceased workers. The agency has evolved to serve the needs of a changing America. Now, we’re celebrating this historic anniversary by looking at both our successful past, and the path to an even brighter future.

Social Security is there for you during all stages of life. Right from the beginning, we issue a unique Social Security number to most newborns when an application is taken at the hospital. This allows us to track your income over your working career and accurately calculate your retirement benefit. We provide disability benefits to injured and chronically ill workers and their families. We provide survivors benefits to widows, widowers, and the minors of deceased workers. We also provide Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to those with low income and resources, and Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs for people who qualify.

Our safe and secure online services allow you to apply for retirement, spouse’s, Medicare, and disability benefits from the comfort of your home. You can quickly complete an online retirement application at

Looking to the future, we recently released our Vision 2025, a strategic plan to help us shape the future of Social Security service delivery and maintain clear communication with you. For more information about our vision for the next ten years, visit

We look to the next 80 years with a renewed commitment to proudly serving Social Security customers throughout their lifetime, when and where they need us. See how Social Security has evolved over the years at

Vonda VanTil is the public affairs specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp St NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at [email protected]