A Short History and Background of Social Security
On August 14, 1945, the Social Security Act was passed and formally codified as Legislative Bill Pub.L. 74–271, 49 Stat. 620. This legislation was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
As a result of the growth of urbanization and industrialization during the 19th century, many new social problems arose. These included:
. Greater demand for labor
. Rise in the need for housing in cities where tenements flourished
. Increase in urban population crowding
. The growth of unsafe workplaces
In addition, problems arose related to society’s most vulnerable such as the elderly and spouses and young children whose head of household perished as a result of illness or unsafe workplaces.
Originally, the Social Security Act was set up as retirement benefits to ensure workers did not fall into poverty when they were no longer able to work due to advanced age or illness.
Responsible Government Agency and Management of Social Security Benefits
Although over time there have been amendments to the Social Security Act, it remained law in the U.S. that basically was intended to be retirement insurance. The responsible U.S. government agency that manages Social Security benefits is formally known as the Social Security Administration.
With over 62,000 employees, the Social Security Administration has ten regional offices, 1300 field offices, 37 telecenters, and eight processing centers. Its main headquarters are located in Woodlawn, Maryland.
Who is Eligible to Receive Social Security Benefits?
According to the Social Security Administration, nearly 96 percent of American workers are eligible for Social Security benefits. In order to be eligible to collect these benefits, workers are required to have been employed for at least ten years for those born from 1929 or later.
Benefits are based on total earnings. Age 62 is the earliest possible age for Social Security eligibility. However, benefits received at age 62 will be lower than if retirement was postponed until age 70 when full retirement benefits are paid. Widows and widowers can begin to receive benefits at age 60, whereas the disabled may receive benefits at age 50.
Others who can receive benefits include:
• Disabled children, even if they are age 18 or older.
. Children up to age 18, or up to 19 if they are full-time students and have not graduated from high school
How to Apply for Social Security Benefits or Seek Additional Information
To apply for Social Security benefits or for more information, it can be done in person at a local field office (no appointment necessary), by phone at 1-800-772-1213 or online at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/forms/.