In 1935, the Social Security program was established. The goal at that time was to cut back on the poverty rates seen by the elderly, which were very high. Granted, the 1930s were a challenging economic time for the entire country, but the elderly also faced the challenge of not being able to work. Those who had lost their savings had nothing and no income.

Over the years, though, Congress has changed the program and added new goals. Today, its main focus is not just retirement, but lost income protection.

That can still mean helping after retirement, and it does in 68 percent of cases. Retirement is the largest reason that people have no income, and the program steps in as it always has.

Another focus point, though, is assisting people who are left behind when the family’s main breadwinner passes away. In 18 percent of cases, those who are getting benefits are children, spouses or other survivors. The people who passed away were workers who got benefits, and those family members still need some assistance going forward.

Still another reason for lost income is disability. In 14 percent of modern cases, those getting benefits haven’t lost a loved one or chosen to retire; they’ve just been forced out of work due to disability, so they have no income.

Those percentages all come from the 2016 numbers. At that time, 61 million people were getting Social Security payments.

Thinking of Social Security as a program to replace lost income, rather than a retirement program, helps people understand its true goals. Those who believe they are eligible need to know what legal steps to take.

Source: Wealth Management, “Social Security Disability and Your Clients: The Real Story,” Mark Miller, Jan. 03, 2018