The Social Security Act 1935
The Social Security Act, which went into effect on August 14, 1935, provided a system of old-age benefits for workers, as well as payments for victims of industrial accidents, unemployment insurance, and assistance for dependent mothers and children, the blind, and the physically handicapped.
Prior to the 1930s, elderly care was mostly a municipal, state, and family affair (with the exception of veterans’ pensions). The immense hardship caused by the Great Depression, on the other hand, sparked popular support for a national old-age insurance scheme. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued a message to Congress on January 17, 1935, requesting “social security” legislation.
Senator Robert Wagner of New York and Representative David Lewis of Maryland both submitted proposals on the same day that reflected the administration’s positions. The subsequent Senate and House legislation were met with criticism from those who saw it as a government intrusion into the private domain, as well as those who wanted employers who accepted government-approved pension schemes to be free from payroll taxes. The bill eventually passed both houses, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law on August 15, 1935.
The act provided a particularly American answer to the issue of retirement benefits. Unlike many European countries, the United States’ social security “insurance” was funded by “contributions” in the form of taxes on individual incomes and payrolls, rather than directly from government revenues. The act also included funding to help children, the blind, and the unemployed, as well as to establish vocational training programs and family health initiatives.
As a result, the passage of Social Security brought with it a slew of new administrative headaches. The Social Security Act gave the Social Security Board the authority to register citizens for benefits, handle the Federal Government’s contributions, and deliver payments to recipients. Prior to the introduction of Social Security, the elderly were frequently faced with the risk of poverty when they retired. That apprehension has mostly vanished now.
The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – Illustrated, 22 Oct. 2015, English edition by Michael H. Roffer (Autor)