The definition of a social welfare policy is social services provided by a government for its citizens. Examples of social welfare in the United States include Medicare, Medicaid, temporary assistance for needy families, food benefits and section 8 housing assistance. Other programs, such as workers compensation, unemployment insurance and Social Security benefits are also considered social welfare programs.
The Emergency Relief and Construction Act of 1932 was the first social welfare policy in the United States. This act provided $300 million in temporary loans to states. These funds were allocated to citizens that had been severely impacted by the Great Depression.
After this act was passed, it became evident that many citizens needed more assistance. As a result, the Federal Relief Act of 1933 was passed to provided $1 billion in additional social support for the poorest citizens. The Social Security Act of 1935 was also passed to provide aid to specific groups, such as children, the elderly and the disabled.
Social welfare policies remained relatively unchanged until welfare reform in 1996. This was a drastic change from previous policies because for the first time, recipients of public assistance were required to work in order to receive aid. Since this time, many debates have centered on who deserves social welfare aid and how much support should be given.