AARP NY Illuminates NYC Sky in Honor of Social Security's 88th Birthday

Weeklong Illumination of Roosevelt Island’s Four Freedoms Park Is Part of AARP’s National 2023 ‘You Earned It’ Social Security Awareness Campaign

NEW YORK, Aug. 14, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The New York City night sky was illuminated this evening to mark the 88th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing Social Security into law in 1935. The words “Social Security: You Earned It” were illuminated in red and white at Roosevelt Island’s Four Freedoms Park in the East River shortly after dusk.

The illumination (rendering below), by the company Oxygenworks, is part of a nationwide AARP campaign to raise Americans’ awareness of Social Security – and of the need to strengthen and preserve one of the nation’s most popular social programs.

The sign will be illuminated through Sunday.

“Social Security is critical for older Americans, who have earned their Social Security income through a lifetime of hard work,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “And the many younger Americans who are now paying into the system are counting on the program’s income in their later years.

“We encourage all Americans to learn how Social Security can benefit them – and to remind their representatives in Congress that Washington must preserve the program to ensure it remains sound and strong, since Social Security will have to cut payments by 20% in 2034 if changes are not made.”

“My Social Security is a lifeline,” said AARP volunteer Kitty Ruderman, 77, of Queens, a retired former legal secretary and executive assistant who joined about 40 other volunteers and AARP New York at Peter Detmold Park in Manhattan along the East River to witness the illumination. “It does not fully cover my current rent payments, but without it, I am doubtful I would even have a home. We deserve our Social Security, which we have all worked for and earned, and we deserve to live with dignity.”

“Social security is my primary income,” said AARP volunteer Debra Robles, 65, of Manhattan, a retired medical biller and clerical associate. “I work as a translator for the New York City Board of Elections when I am able. Social Security is a great help to me, as I’m sure it is to many others who may not have had retirement plans offered to them. It’s the lifeline for many people and plays a vital role in helping us pay our bills.”

AARP New York is also sponsoring Adirondack Chairs, each featuring the “Social Security: You Earned It” campaign tagline, at Four Freedoms Park, plus an audio tour for park visitors during the fall featuring the FDR presidency and the signing into law of Social Security.

AARP this summer launched its nationwide campaign to raise awareness of and highlight the importance of Social Security. Many Americans rely on Social Security income to cover living expenses and pay bills. But if Washington takes no action to restructure the program in the next decade, Social Security income could be cut by an average of $4,000 a year per recipient.

Nearly one in five New York residents— 3,680,264 people— received Social Security income as of last year, injecting more than $64.3 billion into the state’s economy annually.

The average retired working New Yorker on Social Security received about $19,100 a year in 2022. And 49% of New Yorkers 50 and over live in families that rely on Social Security for at least half of their income – 24% in families that rely on the program for at least 90% of their income.

AARP New York’s part in the nationwide campaign involves staff and volunteer-led:

  • Information tables at events such as local fairs;
  • Informational “Get the Scoop on Social Security” ice cream socials across the state;
  • Plinko games;
  • Intergenerational activities on college campuses to ensure younger generations understand the significance of Social Security to their futures;
  • Telephone town halls with experts.

AARP New York urges New Yorkers to find helpful information and resources at AARP’s Social Security Resource Center at, including:

  • A benefits calculator to help determine the amount of money you’ll receive at various ages;
  • Answers to common questions to help understand your Social Security;
  • A place to take action and tell your elected officials how important Social Security is to you and your family. Take our pledge to fight for Social Security at

Follow us on Twitter: @AARPNY and Facebook: AARP New York

About AARP

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.

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