August 14, 1935: FDR signs the Social Security Act into law
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Ranking Member of the Social Security Subcommittee
At a January 19, 2011 meeting Congressman Becerra was elected Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security—making him the top Democratic member in charge of Social Security policy in the House of Representatives.
Following the meeting Rep. Becerra said: “Social Security is more than just the most effective government program in our history—it is a sacred bond between young and old, rich and poor that has made America a better country. As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Social Security it will be my mission to protect Social Security from any attempt to harm the program, or break the bond that unites America across generations.”
Calling Out Plans to Cut Social Security Benefits
On June 22, 2011, Rep. Becerra joined Democratic Members of Congress at a press conference to call attention to recent proposals that would reduce the deficit by cutting the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for retired and widowed Americans who rely on Social Security benefits.
At the press conference a new analysis by Social Security’s Chief Actuary was released on a proposal for Social Security to base Cost of Living Adjustments for current and future retirees and widows to a “chained Consumer Price Index (CPI)” shows that:
On June 11, 2011, Rep. Becerra spoke about Social Security's good financial health at a Coffee With Your Congressman town hall meeting in Glassell Park:
Eliminating Poverty in Old Age
75 years ago, the United States made a landmark promise to its seniors: after a lifetime of work, you should not have to live in poverty in retirement. Prior to Social Security, over 75 percent of the nation's senior citizens lived in poverty.
When President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law, he said:
"Young people have come to wonder what would be their lot when they came to old age. The man with a job has wondered how long the job would last. This law, too, represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete. It is, in short, a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time provide the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness.”
Today, thanks to Social Security and the improvements that have been made to it over the years, the poverty rate for elderly Americans has dropped to 10 percent.
Paying an average monthly retirement inflation protected benefit of $1,164, Social Security serves as a modest, yet solid guard against poverty for most retired Americans.
A Retirement, Disability and Life Insurance Plan for All Americans
Social Security does more than ensure a dignified retirement for all working Americans. In the 1950s, President Eisenhower expanded the New Deal program to serve as a powerful safety net for Americans who become disabled or who lose a working family member to early death.
Today, over 9 million disabled Americans and their families rely on Social Security benefits to make ends meet as do nearly 6.5 million widowed families. In all, about 50 million Americans rely on Social Security benefits, including 4.8 million Californians, and 50,000 families in California's 31st Congressional District.
Social Security coverage is equivalent to a $476,000 life insurance policy and a $465,000 disability policy for a young worker with average earnings. A similar package of benefits is not available on the private insurance market for middle class American families.
Speaker Pelosi and Rep. Becerra spoke about the continued importance of Social Security at a community forum commemorating 75 years of Social Security, at Ricardo Lizarraga Elementary School in South Los Angeles on August 4, 2010:
Durable and Indispensable in Good Times and Bad
In the Great Recession, Americans' private retirement accounts dropped by $2.8 trillion and their net worth plummeted by $11.8 trillion. What happened to Social Security? Nothing. It continued to pay out benefits month after month. In fact, Social Security has weathered 13 recessions over the past 75 years and has never been in danger of not being able to pay benefits.
The Social Security trust fund retains $2.5 trillion in assets, which can pay current benefit levels until 2043 (CBO).
While minor adjustments must be made to Social Security from time to time, the program remains the most durable and indispensible government program in American history.
Rep. Becerra is committed to protecting Social Security and strengthening it for future generations.
Just the Facts on Social Security
What You Need to Know about Social Security.
The Social Security Trust Fund is Real
The Basics About Social Security
Chained CPI Explained
Impact of Chained CPI on Social Security
Fact Sheet on the Overall Impacts of Chained CPI
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