Social Security has provided critical financial help to people of all ages for the last 80 years, and despite our age, we’re far from retiring! As the Social Security program celebrates its historic birthday this August, we’re reflecting on our diverse history, our current strengths, and ways we can continue to improve our services to you.
On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. In doing so, he promised the law would protect “the average citizen and his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.” Today, we continue to provide financial security for our country’s most vulnerable citizens. In fact, Social Security provides world-class service to millions of people every day — online, on the phone, and in our network of field offices across the country.
As we celebrate 80 years, we’re proud to present our “Celebrating the Past and Building the Future” anniversary website. There, you can read 80 interesting facts about an agency that touches everyone’s life at some point or another! For example, did you know the original name of the Social Security Act was the Economic Security Act?
The anniversary website also includes a timeline of our history. It begins with the signing of the Act in 1935 and ends with this year’s announcement of Vision 2025, our bold vision that will guide the agency as we work to meet the future customer service needs of the public. A memorable spot on the timeline is November 2, 2000, the date when we started taking retirement claims online.
Since our agency’s beginning, we’ve relied on our passionate and hard-working employees to face challenges and provide exceptional service. Throughout the 80 days leading up to our anniversary, we’ve been posting employee testimonials that answer the question, “Why do you serve?” We also invited you to share your story with us. You can tell us how Social Security has made a difference in your life and/or the lives of your family and friends. We would love to hear from you, the people we serve every day.
When the Social Security program started 80 years ago, our goal was to provide an economic lifeline for people in need. Today, Social Security continues to protect millions of people. Join us in commemorating this significant milestone! Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/80thanniversary.
The following are some general questions and answers about Social Security:
uQuestion: My wife didn’t work enough to earn 40 credits to qualify for Social Security retirement benefits. Can she qualify on my record?
uAnswer: Even if your spouse has never worked under Social Security, she can, at full retirement age, receive a benefit equal to one-half of your full retirement amount. Your wife is eligible for reduced spouse’s benefits as early as age 62, as long as you are already receiving benefits. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/retire.
uQuestion: Do I have to give my Social Security number whenever I’m asked?
uAnswer: Giving your Social Security number is voluntary. If requested, you should ask why the person asking needs your Social Security number, how it will be used, what law requires you to give your number, and what the consequences are if you refuse. The answers to these questions can help you decide whether to give your Social Security number. However, the decision is yours. Keep in mind that requestors might not provide you their services if you refuse to provide your Social Security number. For more information, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs to read or print our publication, Your Social Security Number And Card.
uQuestion: My neighbor said he applied for Social Security retirement benefits online. Can you really apply for retirement without traveling to an office?
uAnswer: Yes, you can! And, what’s more exciting, it’s the easiest, fastest, and most convenient way to apply for retirement benefits. Our secure website makes it simple, allowing you to apply for retirement benefits in as little as 15 minutes. You can get started now at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline.
uQuestion: What is the earliest age I can begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits?
uAnswer: The earliest age you can begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits is age 62. If you decide to receive benefits before your full retirement age, which for most people is age 66 or 67, you will receive a reduced benefit. Keep in mind you will not be able to receive Medicare coverage until age 65, even if you decide to retire at an earlier age. For more information, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/retire.
uQuestion: I lost my Medicare card. How can I get replacement?
uAnswer: The easiest and newest way to get a replacement Medicare card is by using your my Social Security account. Go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount for more information on how to create an account. You also can get a replacement Medicare card by calling us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (for the deaf or hard of hearing, call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778). Keep your card in a safe place. You don’t want anyone getting hold of your Social Security number. They could steal your identity.
uQuestion: Why is there a five-month waiting period for Social Security disability benefits?
uAnswer: The law states Social Security disability benefits can be paid only after you have been disabled continuously throughout a period of five full calendar months. Social Security disability benefits begin with the sixth full month after the date your disability began. You are not able to receive benefits for any month during the waiting period. Learn more at our website: www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.
uQuestion: Is there a time limit on how long I can receive Social Security disability benefits?
uAnswer: Your disability benefits will continue as long as your medical condition has not improved and you cannot work. Social Security will periodically review your case to determine whether you continue to be eligible. If you are still receiving disability benefits when you reach your full retirement age, your disability benefits will automatically be converted to retirement benefits. Learn more about disability benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.