On 79th anniversary, see how far program has come
On Aug. 14, 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, creating one of the most significant government programs in American history.
Social Security Is Born
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in 1933 and immediately began to implement a series of economic reforms, collectively known as the New Deal, designed to lift America out of the Great Depression. The New Deal greatly increased the involvement of the federal government in economic issues and offered financial protection to many Americans in need of assistance.
One demographic in need of assistance was the elderly. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “5,000,000 old people in the early 1930s joined nationwide Townsend clubs, promoted by Francis E. Townsend to support his program demanding a $200 monthly pension for everyone over the age of 60.”
In June 1934, Roosevelt announced to Congress his intentions to create what would become the Social Security program. He formed the Committee on Economic Security (CES), composed of a group of experts from various agencies, to analyze the issue of economic security in America.
The reports was completed in January 1935 and presented to Congress with the Economic Security Bill, later to be renamed the Social Security Act. The bill was debated in the spring and was passed in the House and Senate by overwhelming margins.
On Aug. 14, 1935, Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. Upon signing the bill, he stated, “We can never insure 100 percent of the population against 100 percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-stricken old age.”
The act provided “a wide range of programs to meet the nation’s needs,” according to the U.S. Social Security Administration. “In addition to the program we now think of as Social Security, it included unemployment insurance, old-age assistance, aid to dependent children and grants to the states to provide various forms of medical care.”
by findingDulcinea Staff