Social Security: A Brief History Essay

1414 words - 6 pages

Almost every American adult citizen is aware of the Social Security Administration. Every payday, each working American has tax deduction for Social Security on their payroll stubs and these deductions are recorded on their W2 forms at the end of the year. If they have older parents or disabled family members, then they would be aware of Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and/or Social Security Income (SSI). Many young people are not conscious of life before Social Security, how disabled or elderly citizens lived without Federal assistance or how Social Security came into existence. Like any issue, there are champions and challengers, people will argue over the benefits and the weaknesses of the issue or alternate ideas for the same problem.

Before Social Security
Before the Social Security Act of 1935, if someone was unable to work and they had no one to support them financially, they often forced into mental institutions or poor houses operated by their locality. The Civil War Pension Program has been referred to as our first national pension program. “The Civil War Pension program began shortly after the start of the War, with the first legislation in 1862 providing for benefits linked to disabilities "incurred as a direct consequence of . . . military duty." Widows and orphans could receive pensions equal in amount to that which would have been payable to their deceased solider if he had been disabled. In 1890, the link with service-connected disability was broken, and any disabled Civil War veteran qualified for benefits. In 1906, old-age was made a sufficient qualification for benefits. So that by 1910, Civil War veterans and their survivors enjoyed a program of disability, survivors and old-age benefits similar in some ways to the later Social Security programs. (Historical Background and Development of Social Security)”. The Crash of 1929 signaled the beginning of the Great Depression, banks closed, business failed, people lost not only their jobs and income, but their homes and savings, if they had any. One website Shmoop documented the average unemployment rates for the Great Depression:
1929: 3.2% 1930: 8.9% 1931: 16.3% 1932: 24.1% 1933: 24.9% 1934 21.7%
1935: 20.1% 1936: 16.9% 1937: 14.3% 1938: 19.0% 1939: 17.2%
Many factors caused the Great Depression, but resolving unemployment and helping the helpless was critical. During the election of 1933, current President Herbert Hoover was quoted during one election speech “I pledge you – I pledge myself to a new deal for the American People.” (Wolfskill 128) Hoover had his chance but he lost the election to Franklin Delano Roosevelt who would become known by his initials, FDR.
Happy Days
According to George Wolfskill, author of “Happy Days Are Here Again!”, Roosevelt shook up Washington, D.C in his first days in office; first he closed the banks. He called for special sessions of Congress and the Emergency Banking was the first of many new bills to be created. By June...

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