Betsy and I both remarked that we were not familiar with the history of establishing the act. We just know that we get money for retirement, we pay into it during our working years, and it will be gone by the time I retire.
Prior to the act, almost half of America’s senior citizens could not support themselves and poverty was in the millions. Elderly worked until they physically couldn’t or were fired. They relied on charity from paltry state run programs, family, or charities. But in the midst of the Great Depression, charity was hard to come by as one in four workers were unemployed.
Early momentum for such a plan began with Louisiana Senator Huey P. Long and Francis Townsend, an unemployed doctor. Long proposed the “Share Our Wealth” program in which he believed taxing the rich would provide a funding source for pensions and guaranteed income for everyone. Townsend devised the “Old Age Revolving Pension Plan” in which he proposed the federal government would provide a $200 monthly pension to every person age 60 and older. Townsend’s plan spread quickly and gained strong momentum.
Roosevelt supported government-sponsored old age, unemployment, and health insurance. The hope was that this movement would stimulate economic spending, and alleviate the immediate hunger and joblessness crises. But while he delayed acting on the idea, he was pushed by his Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins (the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet) and a bill went to Congress in 1935. Significant changes were made to the bill and it was scaled to exclude many large labor categories including farm and domestic workers. While the bill did not include everything the president wanted, it was signed into law on August 14, 1935, and marked a major achievement of his presidency. Since the initial signing the law has changed to offer more benefits.
Seventy-five years after its creation, Social Security is welcomed, controversial, and debated. Social Security is the largest social program in the United States providing benefits to over 52 million Americans. This represents over 20 percent of all government spending - the largest single item in the federal budget. The long-term financial viability has been questioned and without action the Social Security Trust Funds will vanish in 2037. According to the Social Security Administration, Social Security will continue after 2037 but will be mostly supported through payroll taxes and not the Trust Fund. What remains to happen with Social Security is unclear and it remains to be seen if it is still “our plain duty.”
Since we did not feel our readers would want to see pictures of our social security cards, we decided to include pictures taken at the Presidential Library and Museum instead.
|Roosevelt grew up in Hyde Park, NY and loved the area so much he frequented the|
area often throughout his life.
|Although not a great athlete, Roosevelt took up the game of golf at boarding school.|
He excelled and later taught his sons to play.
|An exhibit in the museum showing Roosevelt signing the Social Security Act. Labor Secretary|
Frances Perkins is over his left shoulder.
|Grave sites of F.D.R and Eleanor surrounded by roses.|
|This is the Nation's first Presidential Library and the only one actually used by a President while in office.|