The Social Security Act has established numerous programs which provide supplemental income for insured individuals and their families in the event of disability, when they retire, or at death. This supplemental income acts as a safety net — especially in old age — and keeps an estimated 43 percent of elderly American out of the poverty.

Congress passed the Social Security Act in 1935 and the retirement benefits program went into effect on January 1, 1937. The law has been amended many times since its original enactment.

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