Warren T: First, Social Security is not set up as a retirement program – it was established as a supplemental retirement program meaning the program was never intended to be the sole source of support for retirees. At the time, you are correct, life expectancy was 64, meaning about half the people who paid in would actually collect. Because of this, the program was self-supporting, with the goal to ensure that those who could not work would not fall into poverty. Recent data suggests that the program does just what it was intended to do as 22 million Americans drawing Social Security are lifted out of poverty.
Obviously, the steady increase in life expectancy and income was unexpected and changes to the program (i.e., the increase n retirement age to 67) have not kept up, creating the current fiscal problems in the program
The age was originally chosen when Germany started a similar program in 1870 when life expectancy was even less than when Social Security was established. Life expectancy at birth was less in 1935 but life expectancy at the start of work life was more. Social Security is insurance not a savings program so there are always going to be winners and losers.
Other folks are correct, Social Security was never intended to be a retirement program. It was strictly a stopgap measure to prevent starvation. People, especially farmers, during the depression had been responsible and saved money for all of their working life in order to support themselves when they were too old to work their farms. Their savings were wiped out when the stock market crashed and banks closed and they were literally dying of starvation. The country felt that farmers who had been responsible with their money did not deserve to starve to death and enacted Social Security.
Social insurance, as conceived by President Roosevelt, would address the permanent problem of economic security for the elderly by creating a work-related, contributory system in which workers would provide for their own future economic security through taxes paid while employed. Thus it was an alternative both to reliance on welfare and to radical changes in our capitalist system. In the context of its time, it can be seen as a moderately conservative, yet activist, response to the challenges of the Depression.
Most people back then didn't retire in the sense many (most) do today. They worked until they couldn't work and support themselves. 65 was a rough estimate when a significant proportion of the people that age couldn't work any more.
Because it wasn't set up as they only retirement program. It was designed so that people that did live longer wouldn't be in poverty.
Social Security was NEVER intended to be a "retirement plan"…..
They knew most people wouldn't live past 60 back then.
They didn't want to pay-out ?? Gee, that would mean that all that $$ was their's !!!