Social Security: 85 Years of Dedicated Service
August 14, 2020
Washington, DC – Today Social Security marks 85 years of serving the American people, providing essential income security through retirement, survivor, and disability benefits. Franklin Roosevelt said: “The future of America, like its past, must be made by deeds – not words.” Over 73,000 federal and state employees deliver Social Security’s vital services in both good times and bad.
In normal times, those employees help deliver more than $1 trillion a year in benefits to retirees, to people unable to engage in substantial gainful activity because of disability, to survivors of decedent workers, and to those with little income and few assets. But it is in times of crisis that they display a special commitment to the population they have been hired to serve.
In 1995, when a bomb killed 168 people in Oklahoma City, including fifteen Social Security employees, colleagues across the country converged there to support survivors – taking claims and answering questions. Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Social Security employees assisted families of those killed in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, initiating benefits as quickly as possible and launching a full-scale outreach effort to find victims’ families to help them apply for benefits.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Social Security ensured that monthly payments to beneficiaries continued uninterrupted and set up on-the-spot payments. The agency opened an office in the Houston Astrodome, where employees provided services seven days a week. Around the country, employees served at FEMA’s Family Assistance Centers, and many field offices extended their hours through the Labor Day weekend to help evacuees.
And now, as our country reels under the assault of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has forced most Social Security offices to close, tens of thousands of its employees have set up home offices so that they can work from home, taking appointments over the phone, answering phone calls, processing claims, and supporting online services. Together they continue to fulfill Social Security’s promise made on this date 85 years ago. The Social Security Advisory Board salutes these workers and sends a heartfelt thank you for their commitment to the American people.
For more information on Social Security during the coronavirus pandemic, visit ssa.gov/coronavirus/.