How did the Social Security Act affect people's lives? I am writing an essay for my American History II class for cyber school and I can not figure out how the Social Security Act impacted people's...

How did the Social Security Act affect people's lives?

I am writing an essay for my American History II class for cyber school and I can not figure out how the Social Security Act impacted people's lives.

Expert Answers
larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Social Security Act was part of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal program to provide relief after the Great Depression. It had several provisions among them, a pension monthly for persons over 65 to be paid by payroll taxes. It has been amended through the years to allow reduced payments for persons 62 or older. This was perhaps its greatest effect on people's lives as they were guaranteed an income when they were too old to work. They were no longer a burden on the younger members of their families and could retire with some degree of dignity. By 1998, the average Social Security payment exceeded $1000.00 per month--not enough for one to live on comfortably, but enough to prevent starvation.

Social Security also provides benefits for persons who are blind, disabled, widowed, the children of disabled parents or who are orphaned. Again, this was a major impact as it provided income to those who otherwise would suffer financially.

There was initially some negative impact, as Social Security was paid through a withholding tax, and the incomes of taxpayers were reduced. Also, certain classes of people, such as farm workers and domestics, were excluded. Still, it has probably had a greater impact on the lives of Americans than any other act of Government.


litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Social Security is based on the idea that the government has to make decisions for people. Like the unemployment system, the idea is to take money from a person while he or she is working and hold it until the person needs it. Then, the people who need it will not be a burden on society. The idea is that people should set money aside for when they retire or lose their jobs, but many won't. That is perhaps a negative way to look at it. On the positive side, there is something there for you when you are old or do not have a job. And everyone has it, no matter how irresponsible. It is a benefit for society as well as the individual.
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main way in which the Social Security Act impacted people's lives was by making their old age less insecure.

In the days before Social Security existed, a person would have to save enough money to fend for themselves after they retired.  If they had a poorly-paid job, this might be impossible.  This meant that when they got too old or too ill to work, they might have no way to support themselves.  This would be a very scary situation.  Once the Social Security Act was passed, this became much less of a worry as workers came to have a safety net to rely on for their retirement years.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It was the beginning of a true social safety net in the US.  The Great Depression made it abundantly clear who in our society was the most vulnerable: the elderly, the physically handicapped, and orphans.  Social Security provided a reliable source of income for each of these groups, and was the first time anyone in the US could really conceive of retirement.  Most people just worked until they physically couldn't anymore and were then taken in by their children.  Social Security gave these retirees, and the disabled both security and independence.  It gave orphans another chance at life.

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question