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Happy Birthday, Social Security

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On August 14, 1935, Social Security was born. President Roosevelt's administration saw the program as a way to combat the Great Depression and the terrible unemployment it created. The first beneficiaries were Ernest Ackerman, who received a lump sum payment of 17 cents in 1937, and Ida May Fuller, who received a check for $22.54 in January of 1940.

Social Security was expanded to include benefits for disabled workers in 1956. Today, the Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits that go to disabled workers and their dependents make up 19 percent of total benefits paid by Social Security. As result of President Johnson's War on Poverty in the 1960s, disabled workers who receive SSD benefits are also eligible for medical treatment through Medicare.

The Social Security Administration has pointed out that one in four of today's 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67. Most of these workers will have no private long-term disability insurance and will have to rely on SSD benefits. Today, nearly a third of Social Security beneficiaries are under age 65, including 1.1 million children.

SSD and old-age pensions form a vital safety net for the United States. Nine out of 10 Americans over age 65 receive Social Security retirement benefits. Moreover, nearly half of unmarried retired workers rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.

Although many politicians have recently chosen to attack Social Security from both the right and the left, that was not always the case. Thirty years ago, Republican President Ronald Reagan, with backing from both sides of the aisle, signed legislation designed to keep Social Security fiscally sound. He said that his action, "Assures those who are still working that they have a pact with the future." This pact covers not only workers who reach full retirement age, but those who are forced to stop working for more than a year because of injury or illness.

Social Security continues to do what it was intended to do - keep the elderly and disabled out of abject poverty. However, it is often difficult for those who cannot work because of an impairment to obtain the disability benefits they need and deserve. If you are having trouble with your SSD claim, do what so many others have done. Call Binder & Binder®, America's most successful Social Security Disability advocates. Tell them your story and find out how they can help you.

Source: Daily Kos, "Happy 78th birthday, Social Security, and many more," by Joan McCarter, Aug. 14, 2013.

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