The Social Security Act of 1935
The Social Security Act of 1935 was a landmark piece of legislation that was part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal legislative agenda. The act was an attempt to ease the poverty level of senior citizens and to limit the dangers of the modern American life. The bill was designed to ease the burdens faced by widows, the blind, the elderly, and the poor. When the bill was signed into law, it opened the door to the creation of the largest federal program.
In its original state, the Act provided monthly benefits to retirees and the unemployed. When a person died, a lump-sum benefit was awarded to the estate. The program still provides many of the same benefits as it originally did just at a different level. To finance the payments to retirees, there is a payroll tax on current workers’ wages. The payroll tax is paid by both the employee and the employer.
In addition to allowing many elderly to continue to live on their own above the poverty line, the act allocates money to the individual states. This is done to provide assistance to the elderly and unemployment insurance as well as to aid:
- Families who have dependent children
- Maternal welfare
- Child welfare
- Public health services
- The blind
Social Security has been the subject of controversy almost from the moment it was passed. It has survived since the 1930s and become the third rail of American politics. The original complaint was that the act would result in a loss of jobs. Proponents of the act argued that the Act would open up jobs since older workers would retire leaving positions available for younger workers.