Look Who’s Turning 87—the Social Security Act of 1935

President Franklin D Roosevelt signing the Social Security Act of 1935

Eighty-seven years ago this August, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law, establishing a permanent fund that has provided retirement, disability, and survivor benefits for generations of Americans. The Social Security Act was part of a series of programs and reforms enacted to help pull the U.S. out of the Great Depression. In 2022, over 65 million people will receive more than $1 trillion in Social Security benefits. This year in Washington State, there are about 1.5 million people receiving monthly Social Security benefits totaling over 28 billion dollars.

In August of 1935, our mission started by offering retirement programs to assist the most vulnerable members of the public. Everything was done by hand — paper forms were filed and calculated for millions of people across our country. Other agencies donated employees to help with our new mission. Today, we have thousands of dedicated and compassionate employees, and our services are digital, mobile, and secure through our many online applications. In fact, 2022 marks 10 years of the my Social Security. We launched our my Social Security service to offer more secure and convenient self-service options online.

Initially, the service supported two types of actions:

  • People receiving Social Security benefits could view their benefit information.
  • People not receiving benefits could check their Social Security Statement to see estimates of future benefits and their earnings history.

Over the past decade, we’ve added many features that make doing business online with Social Security easier for most people with access to the internet. Today, nearly 70 million people have signed up for a my Social Security account to conduct their business online securely and conveniently!

If you haven’t signed up yet, visit the SSA website to create your my Social Security account free-of-charge. Or, if you haven’t used your account recently, check out the impressive list of self-service options.

What can you do with your online account?

If you don’t currently receive benefits, you can:

  • Request a replacement Social Security card (if you meet certain requirements).
  • View your Social Security Statement to see future benefit estimates, compare different dates or ages to begin receiving benefits, and review your earnings history.
  • Get instant status of your application for benefits.
  • Get instant proof you do not receive Social Security, Medicare, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

If you receive benefits, you can:

  • Request a replacement Social Security card (if you meet certain requirements).
  • Request a replacement Medicare card.
  • Get instant benefit verification or proof of income letter of Social Security, Medicare, and SSI.
  • Start or change your direct deposit.
  • Change your address and telephone number.
  • Check your information and benefit amount.
  • Get an instant Social Security 1099 form (SSA-1099) or SSA-1042S.
  • Report your wages if you work and receive disability benefits and SSI.

As we work to expand online services for those who prefer that flexibility, we continue our commitment to providing you with face-to-face assistance in field offices across the nation or through our nationwide toll-free telephone service. Our frontline employees offer world-class service to millions of people each and every week.

How to get help:

  • The best way for people with access to the internet to get help from Social Security is online at
  • If you cannot use our website, call our National 800 Number (1-800-772-1213) or your local Social Security office for help. For quicker access to a representative at our National 800 Number, try calling early in the day (between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. local time) or later in the afternoon (between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time). We are also less busy later in the week (Wednesday to Friday) and later in the month.
  • If we are unable to help when you call our 800 number or local office, we will schedule an appointment for you by phone or in-person.

We’ve come a long way and are proud of our strong history of service to you. We look forward to making the future just as great with continued professionalism and innovation!

Contributor Kirk Larson is the Social Security Public Affairs Representative in Washington.

This article originally appeared in the August 2022 issue of AgeWise King County.