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Think you’re getting old, Social Security Turns 80

Soc sec signing

By Kirk Larson
Social Security Washington State Public Affairs Specialist

Eighty years ago, on August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law.

As the face of America has evolved over the course of the last eight decades, so has the Social Security Administration.  Social Security has expanded its safety net to provide benefits for retirees, people with disabilities, spouses and children of deceased workers. The agency has evolved to serve the needs of a changing America. Now, we are celebrating this historic anniversary by looking at both our successful past, and the path to an even brighter future.

Social Security is there for you during all stages of life. Right from the beginning, we issue a unique Social Security number to most newborns when an application is taken at the hospital. This allows us to track your income over your working career and accurately calculate your retirement benefit. We provide disability benefits to injured and chronically ill workers and their families. We provide survivors benefits to widows, widowers, and the minors of deceased workers. We also provide Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to those with low income and resources, and Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs for people who qualify.

Here in Washington State, Social Security plays a major part in supporting our communities and our economy.  Over 1.25 million people receive monthly payments.  Most are retired workers but about 180,000 are disabled workers and 75,000 surviving spouses.  Over 80 percent of the recipients also receive Medicare benefits. In addition, Social Security assists over 150,000 SSI recipients under our needs based program. The direct payments to our Social Security beneficiaries are close to 1.6 billion dollars per month or about 18.9 billion dollars per year and SSI recipients receive over 1 billion dollars a year. These are payments that go on year after year providing support and helping meet basic needs.

In our decades of experience, Social Security has evolved to meet the fast-paced demands of the digital world. Creating an online my Social Security account, allows you to view your Social Security Statement, verify the accuracy of your earnings record, and get estimates of your future monthly benefit. Once you begin receiving Social Security benefits, you can use your online account to manage your record.  You can change your address and phone number, check your benefit information, update your electronic payment method or obtain an instant benefit verification letter or replacement Medicare card. If you haven’t already, you can easily sign up for a my Social Security account at

Our safe and secure online services allow you to apply for retirement, spouses, Medicare, and disability benefits from the comfort of your home. You can quickly complete an online retirement application at

We look to the next 80 years with a renewed commitment to proudly serve Social Security customers throughout their lifetime, when and where they need us. To learn more about the history of Social Security go to

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