Social Security turns 84

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Social Security is celebrated its 84th birthday Wednesday. Implemented in 1935, the program distributes hundreds of billions of dollars to seniors and people with disabilities throughout the nation each year.

Implemented in 1935, the program distributes hundreds of billions of dollars to seniors and people with disabilities throughout the nation each year. (MGN)

Seniors throughout the state held birthday celebrations for the program that more than half a million Floridians benefit from. Their motto: Cut the cake, not Social Security.

“This is the kind of legislation that makes America great,” said Terry Joe Chapman with the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans.

For retirees like Barbara DeVane, Social Security is a lifeline.

“It's all that stands between me and poverty and I'm not alone,” said DeVane.

Advocates for retirees said one of their greatest challenges is dispelling the myth that today’s youth will never see the benefits of the program.

FSU student Sasha Moore told us she was unsure if the program would survive until her retirement.

“I haven't been taught anything about it. It's just like hearsay,” said Moore.

Another student, Justin Baldwin, said he was preparing for the worst-case scenario.

“That's just kind of how I live my life, you know? I'm not really relying on it,” said Baldwin.

Bill Sauers with the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans said the program is self-sustaining.

“The more people you have involved the lower the cost and the risk for everyone involved,” said Sauers.

Baby boomers are projected to see smaller payments by 2035, but Sauers said even that could be avoided by raising the current cap.

Annual earnings above $132,900 aren’t subject to the 6.2 percent Social Security tax.

“Raise that to $250,000 we would have enough money to pay 100 percent benefits forever and ever, amen! Plus have money to expand it,” said Sauers.

As of 2019 retiring at age 66 comes with a maximum payout of $2,861 a month.

More than 578,000 Floridians received nearly $325 million through Social Security in 2017 alone.