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date: 10 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers the history of Social Security, arguing that the 1950 amendments represented the fundamental adjustment that allowed the program’s long-term survival. It analyzes current issues in Social Security related to gender, race, and the program’s long-term solvency. It concludes that Social Security has legitimized the receipt of government benefits among many Americans and changed the nature of old age in the United States by providing older people with a guaranteed means of support. A large and costly program, Social Security has evolved into the United States’ major antipoverty program. Nonetheless it faces the criticism of those who argue that it favors older people over other age groups and that it represents an inefficient form of government coercion. Whether the program will be sustained in the future or modified in a significant way remains a critical question.

Keywords: Social Security, older people, solvency, antipoverty, United States

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