August Update from SOAR President Bill Pienta

Celebrating Medicare and Social Security

Each year, in the early days of January, I’ll flip through my wall calendar and markdown important dates I’m looking forward to in the coming year, including holidays, vacations, birthdays and anniversaries like my wedding (obviously!) and the day I became a USW member. 

Since I retired in 2012, I’ve also gotten into the practice of marking down the anniversaries of Medicare (enacted in July of 1965) and Social Security (enacted in August of 1935) because, quite frankly, these two programs make it possible for me to celebrate all of these other milestones I’m marking on my calendar. 

This is not an exaggeration.  In 1935, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law, the average American was only expected to live 60 years.  By 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson enacted Medicare, life expectancy had increased to 70 years.  By 2018 the figure grew to 79 years. 

Together, Social Security and Medicare were intended to address two significant needs among Americans who are vulnerable because of age or disability:  1) access to health care and 2) a monthly financial supplement intended to help Americans avoid poverty after they retire. 

There are approximately 61 million Americans who access their health care through Medicare, and according to the recent Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS), 92 percent of recipients are satisfied with their overall care and access to health services through the program.  

According to a recent report from AARP, sixty-four million Americans currently receive a monthly monetary supplement from Social Security, a program deemed necessary by 96 percent of Americans.  The same report also found that a majority of Americans (56 percent) believe Social Security benefits have become even more critical during our post-pandemic economy (Source:

For many Americans, the promise of Social Security and Medicare is the only thing that makes retirement possible.  As a retiree, one thing I know is that it is nice to be retired.  So, this July and August, I’ll be celebrating the anniversaries of Medicare and Social Security.  I hope you will as well.

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