AP US History
The Depression of the 1930s was so severe that for the first time a system of welfare payments was introduced in the US to help the unemployed. At first, this came in the form of the government providing the states with funds to distribute; when this proved ineffective, the government launched its own work schemes. These measures, however, did not provide the economic stability that was needed to secure long-term recovery, and Roosevelt therefore passed the 1935 Social Security Act, which would provide relief for the old, the unemployed, and the needy. This was the beginning of a Social Security system in the USA.
Indeed, the very term "social security" marks the US out as being different from the rest of the world, given that it offers this as opposed to a "welfare system." The difference is that social security is seen in America as taking care of the elderly and the sick, who have paid their taxes to the government throughout their working lives, and deserve to be supported in their time of need. Contrast this with the welfare system, which is seen as government giving handouts to those undeserving of them as they are trying to avoid honest employment. Americans do not see everyone as having a right to government assistance in times of need.
Whereas its predecessors had been short-term measures, the Social Security Act was designed as a long-term instrument, which would ensure the long-term economic security of those most at risk and affected by economic downturn. It would also provide an income for those too old to continue in employment.
However, the bill has been criticized for not going far enough; it resulted in large variations between states in the amount of aid paid to those eligible. Different states required different levels of insurance contributions from industry, and as a result paid out less in aid. Limits were placed on the amount to be given to the elderly, the blind, and dependent children by the federal government. Those in most need - farm...