On signing the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “We can never insure 100% of the population against 100% of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-stricken old age.”
Eighty years later, Social Security remains critical to the financial protection of current and future generations of Americans, and is popular across generations and political ideologies, according to a survey released this week by AARP. The survey found that Americans want to live independently, and that challenges around saving for retirement underscore the importance of the program for future generations.
Several themes emerged from the survey.
First, Social Security remains a core part of Americans’ retirement security. Eighty percent of respondents said they relied on the program, or planned to do so, in the future, as a source of retirement income, and 33% said it was the income source they would rely on most in retirement.
Fifty-seven percent completely agreed that Social Security provided financial security for all Americans, and that those who count on it most would really suffer without it. As well, the programs enables older Americans to remain independent, 53% said.
Second, Social Security continues to appeal to all age groups.
Two-thirds of survey participants viewed Social Security as one of the most important government programs—a view that has remained consistent over time, AARP said in a statement. Eighty-two percent also said it was important to contribute to the program for the common good. Younger adults, particularly those in the 30–49 age bracket, expressed less confidence in the future of Social Security than older adults, yet they still valued the program. Ninety percent of adults under 30 said Social Security was an important government program, and 85% wanted to know it would still exist when they retired.