Social Security was originally introduced in 1935 in the aftermath of the Great Depression. It was intended to provide a safety net of income to retired and disabled workers and their families. Social Security is a mandatory plan, requiring most wage earners to contribute a percentage of their yearly income to support the program. In return, they, their spouses and sometimes their dependents are eligible for retirement, disability and survivorship benefits.
Most qualified retirement plans offer significant tax benefits for those willing to follow a few IRS specified rules. The government wants to make these plans (401(k)s, Keoghs, SEPs and traditional IRAs) available for specific needs, and has established tax law to help eliminate potential abuses of these tax advantaged investment alternatives.
If you have existing retirement assets in a traditional IRA, you may want to consider converting those assets to a Roth IRA. Possible benefits of converting include tax-free distributions at retirement, no required minimum distributions at age 70 ½, and leaving income tax-free assets to your heirs in the event of your death.