In the years following World War I and the "Black Tuesday" stock market crash in 1929, the United States was in a very bad way financially. The old enough to be retired and the sick and disabled were especially effected. In the early 1930's more than sixty perecent of elderly Americans did not have enough money to meet their most basic needs. In 1935 Congress passed the Social Security Act which protects very nearly every American worker when and if they become too old or disabled to work anymore. This was not the first time that the United States government got into the business of insuring the elderly indigent would receive a retirement benefit. Almost immediately following the Civil War a retirment program for Civil War veterans was created. Originally covering only veterans who were disabled by their service in the war, it was later expanded to all Civil War veterans and still later to all elderly people.
The Social Security Act greatly improved the lives of the elderly and the disabled. The Social Security Act requires every American worker and their employer to pay OASDI* and Medicare taxes on the first 100,000 and some odd dollars of wages and salary earned each year. In return for paying these taxes throughout their working lives, Americans become entitled to Social Security benefits when they become disabled and unable to work or old enough to retire under Social Security guidelines-- currently retirement can be taken as early as age 62 with partial benefits, with full benefits available at age 67. While social security will not alone allow you to maintain the standard of living you did in your most productivce years, it provides a base income sufficient to maintain a modest standard of living.
Most of us probably agree that having everyone pay a modest tax during their working years to insure that no one is left on the streets to suffer until they die when they become old or sick is basically a good thing. And despite some alarmist non-sense you may have heard from the right wing, Social Security is a highly efficient program that pays an extraordinary number of people every month and almost always gets it right. And on the rare occaisions they don't calling or visiting a local Social Security office usually gets a corrected payment to the recipient's bank account within 1--2 days. And Social Security has a very low expense ratio for the huge volume of money it manages and distributes, from people who are working today to people who can no longer work. We should all support President Obama's efforts to hold off Republican plans to privatize Social Security. Such a move could only benefit Wall Street, and honestly after all we've learned about those folks do you really want Them to get their hands on an effective program that provides for millions of elderly and disabled Americans?
*Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance