A Moment in Social Security History - Minnesota Reformer

The Social Security Act was signed into law by FDR in 1935, thus launching a program which, 88 years later, still provides a significant degree of financial security to American seniors, the disabled, and minor dependents. Notwithstanding some of the negative rhetoric we hear today, Social Security lifts about 15 million seniors, about 1 million minor children, and about 5 million other dependents out of poverty, making it among the most important – and successful – government programs ever devised.

When we look at Social Security, a program which has evolved over decades, we can easily lose sight of how the program came about in the first place. An interesting fact is that it was a woman named Frances Perkins, the first woman to ever serve in a presidential cabinet, who was the principal architect of the 1930s era effort which resulted in today’s Social Security program as well as America’s Unemployment Insurance program. As President Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor, Ms. Perkins delivered a radio address in February of 1935 to proposed sweeping changes to America’s approach to security for American workers, a transcript of which is available here. Read in the context of the times – on the heels of the Great Depression which had plunged most Americans into adject poverty – this Minnesota Reformer article provides a fascinating view of the origins of our nation’s most popular and important social security program. Click here to read more.

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