hoover's belief that federal relief would weaken the social and moral fabric of the society, impair the credit and solvency of the government, and delay the natural forces at work to restore the economy.">
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History of Social Security System

Posted on:11/21/2011
The roots of the current U.S. Social Security system can be traced to the debacle of the Great Depression. In 1928, Herbert Hoover won the presidency by defeating Alfred Smith, the democratic governor of New York State. By 1932 the entire nation was suffering from the great depression.


The Hoover administration's response to the Depression was marked by inactivity and a reliance on the voluntary social welfare sector. This immobility was based on Hoover's belief that federal relief would weaken the social and moral fabric of the society, impair the credit and solvency of the government, and delay the natural forces at work to restore the economy. Moreover, Hoover believed that federal relief was illegal and a violation of states' rights. Nevertheless, the magnitude of the Depression forced Hoover to propose a limited unemployment assistance program in 1932, in which the federal government paid 80 percent of the costs.

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt became the President in 1933, he opted for social solutions to the Depression, and his response involved a massive social experiment whose objectives were relief, recovery, and reform. Spurred on by the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the growing rebellion inspired by a California physician named Francis Townsend who advocated a flat $200 per month for each retired worker, Roosevelt championed a government assistance program that would cover both unemployed and retired workers.

The fruit of Roosevelt’s efforts was the Social Security Act of 1935, through which the federal government established the basic framework for the modern social welfare state. This legislation included: (1) a national old-age insurance system; (2) federal financial assistance to states for maternal and child welfare services, aid to dependent children (ADC), vocational rehabilitation for the handicapped, medical aid for disabled children, aid to the blind, and a plan to strengthen public health services; and (3) an unemployment system.


  
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