President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the president who signed a law, now known as Social Security, in 1935. The country was just recovering from the Great Depression and this new law gave people a bit of security for their future after many had lost their entire savings and source of income in the recent stock market crash. Over 50 percent of senior citizens were living below the poverty level. The official name of the law is Old Age Survivor and Disability Act (OASDI).
President Reagan was determined to strengthen Social Security. His first letter to Congress, dated May 21, 1981 stated:
"As you know, the Social Security System is teetering on the edge of bankruptcyÃ¢ Â¦"
He wrote a follow-up letter to Congressional leaders on July 18, 1981:
"The highest priority of my Administration is restoring the integrity of the Social Security System. Those 35 million Americans who depend on Social Security expect and are entitled to prompt bipartisan action to resolve the current financial problem."
There was a huge amount of concern that when the baby boomers began to retire there would be serious shortages in the system.
Today the problems are much worse.
Social Security has become the largest single government program in the world. But it is headed toward insolvency. One is that there have been many times when different administrations have used the trust funds for non-Social Security expenses. Another is that there are many more people currently collecting benefits than those who are working and paying into it.
Since our government has not been a good steward of our money, perhaps Social Security programs should be administered by private investment companies. Or people think that individuals should be able to invest their own accounts rather than have the government do it for them. There are advantages and disadvantages to either idea. Many citizens don't have enough knowledge of investing to be able to handle their own accounts. On the other hand, those who do would probably be able to have their savings earn much more than the government. However, in the event of a stock market crash as happened in the 1920's and 30's they could lose everything.
There have been many changes to the system over the years that even include benefits for immigrant aliens.
For years certain non-citizens could collect disability benefits but were stopped 1995 in an attempt to streamline the program. In the past few years this law has been reinstated and now those non-citizen aliens are again covered! According to the website https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/spotlights/spot-non-citizens many non-citizens can legally collect social security disability benefits now!
What is an alternative to a bankrupt system? We could get rid of all the amendments and additional programs that have been added over the years. We could make it as it was intended after the Great Depression. Remember, the official name of the law was Old Age Survivor and Disability Act (OASDI).