Family Finances

Social Security: The House that Roosevelt Built

July 28, 2011  • Pamela Perun, Patricia Dilley

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Critics of the Social Security program are fond of labeling the Social Security trust fund as a fiction, claiming that the program is bankrupt, or disparaging the program’s legal basis as ephemeral and subject to the whims of Congress.  This brief sets the record straight on Social Security.  This paper demonstrates that Social Security is not an income transfer program from the young to the old, the trust is a valid trust and the trust fund is invested as required by law, Social Security’s financial status is strong, and the program is not a major contributor to the long-term federal deficit.  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt intentionally endowed the Social Security program with a strong legal and financial foundation to protect the “legal, moral, and political” integrity of Social Security, ensuring the program can continue to be the financial mainstay for Americans who are older, have disabilities, or are dependent children, as it has for generations.