Plan for a New Future: The Impact of Social Security Reform on People of Color

The Social Security Act was passed in 1935 to solve a pressing problem: how to alleviate poverty among those who contributed a lifetime of labor to the U.S. economy but who, through no fault of their own, could no longer work. The program’s early years focused on providing assistance to the elderly and their spouses. Later, eligibility was extended to dependents of deceased workers and to people who could no longer work due to long-term disability. Since its beginnings, Social Security has proven to be one of the most enduring and effective means of protecting vulnerable people from poverty while giving them dignity and a measure of economic security.

It is an especially important asset for workers and families of color who are more vulnerable to economic instability and who are the least likely to have wealth as a direct result of past racial discrimination in American life and policies. It is important to recognize that Social Security also serves to prevent the middle class from falling behind.