What Is the History of Social Security?


Quick Answer

In 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed the Social Security Act as part of the Depression recovery program known as the New Deal. The Social Security Act established a two-fold insurance program, featuring unemployment compensation and old-age retirement insurance.

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Full Answer

The Social Security Act played a role in President Roosevelt's aim to create social and economic that provided lasting benefits for working citizens. Initially, only individuals employed in commercial and industrial roles were entitled to benefits from the Social Security Act. Since 1935, a variety of legislation has been passed that resulted in the program having a much broader accessibility. In 1939, an amendment was passed that allowed the dependents and survivors of Social Security recipients to claim benefits; in 1950, benefits were extended to domestic employees, those employed by charities, farm workers, and later, to those serving in the armed forces.

In 1965, Medicare and Medicaid were added to the program, aimed at providing medical care for those 65 and older, and poverty stricken individuals of any age, respectively. Since 1974, the oversight of Social Security has been conducted by the Social Security Administration, a branch of the U.S. Health and Human Services department until it became its own agency in 1995. Social security revenues are invested in order to maintain payouts. There are concerns, as of 2015, that the program will not be able to maintain itself through the 21st century.

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