Ayn Rand Received Social Security


Critics of Social Security and Medicare frequently invoke the words and ideals of author and philosopher Ayn Rand, one of the fiercest critics of federal insurance programs. But a little-known fact is that Ayn Rand herself collected Social Security. She may also have received Medicare benefits.

An interview recently surfaced that was conducted in 1998 by the Ayn Rand Institute with a social worker who says she helped Rand and her husband, Frank O’Connor, sign up for Social Security and Medicare in 1974.

Federal records obtained through a Freedom of Information act request confirm the Social Security benefits. A similar FOI request was unable to either prove or disprove the Medicare claim.

Between December 1974 and her death in March 1982, Rand collected a total of $11,002 in monthly Social Security payments. O’Connor received $2,943 between December 1974 and his death in November 1979.


  1. I enjoy your blog a lot, but your critiques of libertarianism are always quite weak.

    I would guess Ayn Rand was forced to contribute to Social Security her whole life, why shouldn’t she take some of it back?

    A thief robs everything in your house, you are pissed, and later the thief decides to return your TV. Are you a hypocrite if you accept it?

    Keep up the great blog, but try a little harder on the anti-libertarian thing.

    1. And your argument that “the system was there, why not since she paid into it?” rings hollow when her philosophy of eschewing socialized systems such as Medicare and Social Security came to a grinding halt when she felt that it was to her benefit to partake in the welfare state.

      1. Her philosophy was about taking whatever your could without giving, since either people will compete with you or don’t deserve anything.

        So this seems right up her alley. Of course she deserved social security, she was special. it’s the lazy people who don’t deserve it.

      2. I dunno. If you pay into something because you’re required to, it doesn’t seem so crazy to accept the benefits to which you’re entitled, even if you fundamentally agree with the existence of said program.

        Don’t get me wrong, though. This still made me grin.

      3. @Angry_Sam

        Wait, don’t you mean “even if you fundamentally [disagree] with the existence of said program.” Ayn Rand fundamentally disagreed with Social Security and Medicare.

      4. In his book Why People Believe Weird Things, Michael Shermer called Rand “the queen of the double standard.” This is just another point that puts him right (ahem) on the money.

  2. Fucking hell, Chris…lay off the old Methhead.

    Speed was expensive back then, you know. Someone had to pay for them: reclusive billionaires, Alan Greenspan, the US taxpayer, whoever. The Uber(wo)man’s will to Power trumps all (along with her desire for PILLS, more fucking PILLS give me the fucking piLLs you ImBeciLE i nEeds my PilLs why won’t my aRm STop ITChiNG)…

    I wonder what benefits she’s enjoying in Hell?

  3. I like how Obama never had a job until he finished his “law” degree. Then he teaches constitutional law and works at a firm. Oh yeah, he was a community organizer for a church group. Don’t need a birth certificate to do those things.
    These are the same people that live off other people’s backs all their life and then get elected and want to tax the real workers more.

  4. so she pays in her whole life, against her will, taken from her paycheck, then she’s not supposed to even receive the benefits which were taken from her in the first place on principal?

    It’s be a WHOLE lot different if she or WE even had the option to opt out!!!

    1. Actually, Rand didn’t pay into SS her “whole” life. She was born in Russia in 1905, came to America in 1926. Social Security didn’t come into existence until 1935, and payroll taxes weren’t collected until 1937. By 1937 Rand was mostly living off the royalties from the sale of her writing (screenplays like Red Pawn) and later, her massive tomes and on the lecture circuit. In those cases, no company or third party withholds payroll taxes. Rand would have had to make her Social Security payments when she filed her annual income taxes.

      Furthermore, Social Security is not an “investment” or escrow type of account. It’s more comparable to insurance, like health or car insurance.

      So, in a way, her payment of Social Security “premiums” weren’t exactly involuntary. A smart Objectivist lady like her could have found a way to avoid paying those taxes without getting caught for tax evasion.

      So, from one angle, yes, she paid her old age insurance premiums and when she was old, she collected the benefits she was entitled to. Nothing hypocritical there.

      But from the other angle – for someone who railed against altruism, and against both being dependent upon others and having others be dependent upon her, she was hypocritical. People depended upon her to make SS payments during her productive years. And then she depended upon people to make their social security payments when she was a cancerous old bag. Damn that co-dependence of the American system and the idea that for our democracy to work we have to depend upon each other’s continued agreement to be in the system. We really do rely upon each other, which means we could make the case that Rand’s Objectivism is counter productive to a functioning democratic republic of the people.

  5. Doesn’t surprise me in the least. There’s one woman I know (not well) who must have had some time on her hands one day and went and got all Fox News in my face. Total tea party freak she was, bitching about how everybody’s gotten soft and lazy due to handouts, blah, blah, blah.

    Didn’t see her for a few weeks. Someone else mentioned her mother had gotten sick and the woman had to go back east and see about getting Medicare/nursing home funding. Not a handout, I’m sure.

  6. “Since there is no such thing as the right of some men to vote away the rights of others, and no such thing as the right of the government to seize the property of some men for the unearned benefit of others—the advocates and supporters of the welfare state are morally guilty of robbing their opponents, and the fact that the robbery is legalized makes it morally worse, not better. The victims do not have to add self-inflicted martyrdom to the injury done to them by others; they do not have to let the looters profit doubly, by letting them distribute the money exclusively to the parasites who clamored for it. Whenever the welfare-state laws offer them some small restitution, the victims should take it . . . .”

    – Ayn Rand, from The Objectivist, June 1966, 11 (Via the Ayn Rand Lexicon).

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