The social security system is the most successful social programme ever enacted by the US government. In a typical month in 1984 it provided almost $15 billion of benefits to 36 million retired and disabled people and their dependants and survivors. For most of these people, social security was the major source of income. While poverty among the aged has not been eliminated, social security has brought this goal within reach. Yet despite its success social security of late has been subject to great criticism, and radical changes are often suggested for problems that either do not exist or can easily be resolved. This chapter will explain the programme’s rationale and suggest methods of improvement which will not alter its basic character.