Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of Social Security
August 14, 2015 03:21 PM
Today, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) celebrates the 80th anniversary of Social Security. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Social Security into law on August 14, 1935.
NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris reflected on the important role of the program in lifting millions of elderly Americans out of poverty. “Before Social Security, over half of older Americans were impoverished because people lacked a basic measure of protection as they aged and retired,” Halamandaris said. “By default, people were literally forced into poor houses, which by description were like something out of Dickens.”
President Roosevelt led the push for Social Security to address the high rates of poverty among senior citizens as part of the New Deal. “In response, President Roosevelt embraced Social Security based on the notion of social insurance,” Halamandaris said. “It is the notion that while not all of us may be able to care for ourselves as individuals, collectively we can.”
Halamandaris noted that among what distinguishes Social Security from some other programs is that everyone contributes and benefits. “Part of the reason Social Security works is its inherent justice,” he said. “As distinct from some other programs, Social Security is in an earned right under which everyone pays in and everyone benefits. We must be diligent in our efforts to protect this fundamental aspect of the program, and skeptical of so-called reforms, such as means-testing, that would make the program something that divides, rather than unites, us.”
Halamandaris emphasized that Social Security is a “victory” that must be protected. “Social Security is a victory of these principles of protection and justice. It is a promise of one generation taking care of another, and it is a promise that we must ensure and protect for future generations.”