The original Social Security Act was a law targeted at those age 65 and older (those retired). At the time the act was signed into law by President Roosevelt in 1935, the U.S. was in the middle of the Great Depression. Many people were without work, and those who were retired (the elderly) were being especially hard hit with many living in poverty. The additional income provided by Social Security helped many rise above poverty (SSA, n.d.). Social Security is funded by payroll taxes, specifically FICA (employer pays 6.2% and employee pays 6.2% on salaries up to $118,500 for 2015) and SECA (for those who are self-employed; they pay the full 12.4% on business incomes up to $118,500). This money is held and paid out by the Social Security Trust Fund. Over time, amendments were made to the Social Security Act, and survivors and the disabled were included as recipients of Social Security. Again, this was done to help keep people in these situations from living in poverty. Each Social Security benefit (retirement, survivors, and the disabled) has specific requirements that must be met in order to qualify for them (SSA, 2015a).

Your 20% discount here!

Use your promo and get a custom paper on
Social Security and Supplemental Security Income

Order Now
Promocode: SAMPLES20

Supplemental Security Income is a federal government program that gives money each month to people with low incomes and little resources who are disabled, blind, and/or 65 years of age or older. SSI is not funded through the regular Social Security program. Instead, funds for SSI are taken from the general fund of the U.S. Treasury. The Social Security Administration manages the program. SSI has rules of eligibility based on income and resources (SSA, 2015b).

Conservatives have never been all that supportive of Social Security and SSI. They don’t believe in big government, and Social Security is a big government program. Although conservatives don’t have a problem with people saving for retirement, they would rather they do so outside the government. They have been wanting to privatize Social Security for many years. Conservatives believe that Social Security is too socialistic, even though almost all Americans pay into the system.

SSI is considered an entitlement program because it gives money or other benefit to a specific group (as indicated above) based on legislation. Both liberals and conservatives believe that there is fraud, waste, and abuse in the system. The President’s 2015 budget calls for a review of entitlement programs to look for fraud, waste, and abuse. The administration expects to save $32 billion by making sure the money goes to people who meet the criteria (Nather, 2015). Conservatives consider all entitlement programs to be a form of socialism. Conservatives have a point in that too much socialism can cause people to be lazy and not want to work for what they have.

According to CNN, Republicans have suggested that half of those who are on entitlement programs such as SSI and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) do not qualify under the strict reading of the guidelines. This view was put forward by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012 and again in 2015 by Republican Rand Paul. Democratic sources have responded by stating (similar to President Obama) that there is waste, fraud, and abuse in the system, but most beneficiaries do meet criteria and it is a “detachment from reality” to say that they shouldn’t qualify. (Killough, 2015).

Liberals don’t have a problem with big government and think that government serves a useful purpose. It is there to protect people when the private sector gets out of hand. Liberals see Social Security and SSI as necessary parts of our system. They want the government to help those living in poverty. Even though undeserving people may obtain access to Social Security and SSI, they don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water. Liberals, like conservatives, agree that Americans should save for their retirements, but liberals don’t have a problem with the government’s involvement in the process. Both liberals and conservatives believe there are problems with Social Security, but they have different ways of solving them. Liberals would like to increase Social Security benefits by increasing amounts subject to payroll tax, while conservatives would like to decrease benefits to help keep Social Security solvent.