Retirement hit America rather abruptly with the Social Security Act of 1935. Before that, relatively few people actually retired, choosing instead to work as long and as hard as they could. Social Security-designed primarily to fight poverty among the nation’s senior and disabled citizens-provided a guaranteed income supplement for retirees aged 65 and over. By 1940 the Social Security Administration was sending retirement checks to over 112,000 retirees (99,000 men and 13,000 women), the average monthly benefit being $22.60. By 1950 the number of retirees had swollen to over 1.7 million, and the average monthly

benefit had risen to $44. Today about 30 million retirees receive an average monthly payment of about $700.