President Lyndon B. Johnson and President Harry S. Truman shaking hands at the signing ceremony of the Medicare legislation.

Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Harry S. Truman shaking hands at the signing ceremony of the Medicare legislation. A complete gallery of photos and posters is coming soon.

"We can never insure one-hundred percent of the population against one-hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life. But we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age. This law, too, represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built, but is by no means complete.... It is...a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time provide for the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness."

-- Franklin D. Roosevelt, August 14, 1935

"Social not a dole or a device for giving everybody something for nothing. True Social Security must consist of rights which are earned rights -- guaranteed by the law of the land."

-- Harry S. Truman, August 13, 1945

"We will...endeavor to administer the disability [program] efficiently and effectively, [and]. . . to help rehabilitate the disabled so that they may return to useful employment.. . . I am hopeful that this new law. . . will advance the economic security of the American people."

-- Dwight D. Eisenhower, August 1, 1956

"The Social Security program plays an important part in providing for families, children, and older persons in times of stress. But it cannot remain static. Changes in our population, in our working habits, and in our standard of living require constant revision."

-- John F. Kennedy, June 30, 1961

"One of the most urgent orders of business at this time is the enactment of hospital insurance for the aged through Social Security to help older people meet the high costs of illness without jeopardizing their economic independence."

-- Lyndon B. Johnson, February 9, 1964

"I have today signed [legislation which]. . . constitutes a major breakthrough for older Americans, for it says at last that inflation-proof Social Security benefits are theirs as a matter of right...."

-- Richard M. Nixon, July 1, 1972

"We must begin by insuring that the Social Security system is beyond challenge. [It is] a vital obligation each generation has to those who have worked hard and contributed to it all their lives."

-- Gerald R. Ford, February 9, 1976

"The Social Security program.. . represents our commitment as a society to the belief that workers should not live in dread that a disability, death, or old age could leave them or their families destitute."

-- Jimmy E. Carter, December 20, 1977

"[This law] assures the elderly that America will always keep the promises made in troubled times a half century ago.. . . [The Social Security Amendments of 1983 are] a monument to the spirit of compassion and commitment that unites us as a people."

-- Ronald W. Reagan, April 20, 1983

"To every American out there on Social Security, to every American supporting that system today, and to everyone counting on it when they retire, we made a promise to you, and we are going to keep it."

-- George H.W. Bush, January 31, 1990

"Social Security. . . reflects some of our deepest values--the duties we owe to our parents, the duties we owe to each other when we’re differently situated in life, the duties we owe to our children and our grandchildren. Indeed, it reflects our determination to move forward across generations and across the income divides in our country, as one America."

-- William J. Clinton, February 9, 1998

The content on this page was created by the historian of the Social Security Administration and appears also on Social Security's History website.