5 simple truths that explain how Social Security works

4 min read

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935 during the Great Depression, an insurance program was born that protects American workers from dire poverty in old age.

Social Security has become a significant thread in the fabric of the national economy. In 2017, more than 62 million Americans — or about 19 percent of the population — will receive about $955 billion in Social Security benefits.

Over time, amendments to that original act expanded Social Security to include benefits for disabled workers as well as dependents and survivors of the insured. Later, in 1965, Medicare health insurance for older Americans was added to the package.

In spite of these changes, however, the way Social Security works has remained fundamentally consistent throughout its history. Been wondering how the program does what it does? Read on as we answer five common questions. And use this calculator to see how much you might receive from Social Security.