Social Security celebrates 72 years today. Five years after the stock market crash of 1929, on June 8, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced his intention to provide a program for Social Security in a message to Congress. Subsequently, the President issued an Executive Order which created the Committee on Economic Security, composed of five top cabinet-level officials. The committee was instructed to study the entire problem of economic insecurity and to make recommendations that would serve as the basis for legislative consideration by the Congress.

In early January 1935, the CES made its report to the President, and on January 17 the President introduced the report to both Houses of Congress for simultaneous consideration. Hearings were held in the House Ways & Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee during January and February. Some provisions made it through the Committees in close votes, but the bill passed both houses overwhelmingly in the floor votes. After a Conference which lasted throughout July, the bill was finally passed and sent to President Roosevelt for his signature.The Social Security Act was signed into law by President Roosevelt on August 14, 1935. In addition to several provisions for general welfare, the new Act created a social insurance program designed to pay retired workers age 65 or older a continuing income after retirement.

The Social Security Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on this day in history, August 14, 1935. The Act created unemployment compensation, old-age benefits and aid to dependent children .


As he signed the Act into law, he stated, “We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.”

Although attacks have been made against the Social Security Act and its processes, most notably Bush’s attempts to privatize social security, Social Security has survived for over seven decades.


About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Business, Democrats, Economics, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Politics, Republican Party. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Bill Woessner says:

    I find the word ‘celebrate’ an odd choice. I, for one, choose not celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the bill that plunged our country in to debt unending.

  2. Quite a heavy burden to place on one little old Act all by itself. I would say there are quite a few things that have “plunged” this country into debt unending.

    Some of us see social security as a good thing. If the government would stop borrowing from the social security trust fund, maybe it would be in better shape.

    Of course, some people fear anything that looks like government help to its citizens. And, if you label something “socialistic”, boy, you really have an instant fear factor going.

  3. Bill Woessner says:

    Quite a heavy burden to place on one little old Act all by itself. I would say there are quite a few things that have “plunged” this country into debt unending.

    You’re absolutely right. Medicare has plunged us much more in to debt than Social Security. Right now, the combined unfunded liability from Social Security and Medicare is about $60 trillion. The national debt of $9 trillion is chump change in comparison.

    If the government would stop borrowing from the social security trust fund, maybe it would be in better shape.

    Not really. Not at all, actually. The $2 trillion that the governent owes the trust fund is, again, chump change compared to the total unfunded liability.

    Look, I have no problem with the government helping those who need it. But Social Security does no such thing. Social Security doesn’t take from the rich and give to the poor. It steals money from everyone and throws it away.

  4. John B. Kalb says:

    My poor grandkids will start to pay the price of these “major of all boondoggles”. (The term boondoggle was created as an offshoot of another of FDR’s contributions to what will be the final result of our country’s destruction – the complete demise of any class of people that work to earn a living.) I am 71 years old and drawing a Social Security check each month plus relying on Medicare to pay my Doctor and other health care expenses(all unnecessary at least for us because of our blessings I thank those still earning a living for helping me out – but why are we involved with our stupid handouts to corporations, developers (especially the ones from Atlanta), and those who see no need to work to enable them to pay their own way. The ‘stuff is about to hit the fan’ – and, by the way, an unnecessary new ball diamond IS NOT GOING TO SAVE US!!! John B. Kalb

  5. Bill:

    Any figures on what you are stating? For instance, you mention that the $2 trillion owed is “chump change”. How so? Is there a neutral website where info can be found? I have noticed that most of the websites I have visited are slanted either to support social security or to oppose it. And, as we know, almost any information can be slanted in the way it is presented.

    By the way, the Social Security website itself is not entirely neutral in the way it presents the president’s outdated plan to privatize social security.

    Your last comment is interesting. Do you favor redistribution of wealth?

  6. John:

    My poor grandkids (all nine of them) will be paying for the war in Iraq too. This administration has destroyed the surplus that existed when it took over and has plunged us into enormous debt that true conservatives do not support.

    I agree corporate handouts are a part of the problem. Our destruction will not be from Social Security and government entitlement programs, our destruction will be due to the government’s cowardice in protecting American jobs and our standard of living by allowing corporations to outsource virtually everything and relocate to third world nations in order to exploit the economic environment. Anyone hear of China? Anyone able to find products not from China or some other foreign country? China is becoming a force to reckon with, and we aren’t doing too good in that department.

    I believe China and the ultra powerful corporations will destroy America, not Social Security.

    I am curious about your comment on Atlanta. What is that in reference to?

    Finally, I have been and continue to be a supporter of Harrison Square, so what does Harrison Square have to do with Social Security and saving us?

  7. Andy says:

    John, I am amazed how you manage to incorporate Harrison Square into almost every post you write. At first, I admired your dedication and zest for the cause. Now, I have to wonder if the fight against HS has become more about your ego than anything else.

  8. Bill Woessner says:

    Any figures on what you are stating?

    How about USA Today, the most widely read newspaper in America.

    Your last comment is interesting. Do you favor redistribution of wealth?

    Absolutely. But not in the absurd manner that Social Security does it. We spend more on Social Security than it would cost to COMPLETELY wipe out poverty. Consider the following:

    Based on the Census Bureau’s market income data from 2005, there are 55.3M Americans living in poverty: 40.6M and 14.7M children. To derive an upper bound, assume that all of those people have 0 income (unrealistic, I know, but it’s simple). Therefore, to raise them all above the poverty line, we would have to give each adult $9570 and each child $3260.

    How much would it cost? Well, it’s a simple inner product:
    $9570 * 40.6M + $3260 * 14.7M = $437B. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that’s a lot of money, but remember that it’s just an upper bound. If we assume the distribution of income among those in poverty is uniform, we can cut that number in half. The distribution is undoubtedly far more complicated than that, but it’s a good estimate.

    But even if we stick with the upper bound it’s STILL less than we spent on Social Security in 2005 ($564 billion), let alone other welfare programs like TANF, food stamps, WIC, section 8, etc.. And yet despite our massive social spending, there are STILL 37M Americans below the poverty line!

    My poor grandkids (all nine of them) will be paying for the war in Iraq too. This administration has destroyed the surplus that existed when it took over and has plunged us into enormous debt that true conservatives do not support.

    I disagree with your assertion that the administration destroyed the surplus. I believe the recession, made worse by 9/11, destroyed the surplus. But let’s not kid ourselves. The surplus was ALSO chump change. When Clinton left office, the national debt stood at $5.7T. The $230B surplus was about 4% of that.

    On the other hand, I absolutely agree that true fiscal conservatives do not support the reckless spending of the administration. I consider myself a true fiscal conservative and I think it’s repugnant. It’s politics as usual, though. The practice of buying votes is as old as democracy, but I don’t believe it was perfected until August 14th, 1935.

  9. Jeff Pruitt says:

    Let’s be honest about what’s happened with social security.

    Reagan put together the largest tax cut for the wealthy in the history of this country while simultaneously doubling the social security tax. He did this with social security because it was known that future current workers would not be able to pay for the boomers’ retirement. Up until that decision by Ronald Reagan, social security had always been a PayGo system – retirees were paid by current workers. So the boomers were going to be the first generation to pay for someone else’s retirement AND their own. In order to do this they created the Social Security Trust fund where the excess funds paid in by boomers would be saved to pay for their retirement.

    So what happened? Well Reagan’s supply side (voodoo) economics failed and he was running up massive debt. To solve the problem he teamed up with that financial “genius” Alan Greenspan and together they conspired to use the Social Security Trust Fund to pay for general government expenditures. And because this was government debt it wouldn’t show up in the deficit. Brilliant!

    Unfortunately, we still have to pay that money back in benefits regardless of the fiscally irresponsible decision made by Greenspan and Reagan (and continued by future presidents).

    So what’s in our future? Massive borrowing and more debt until the system breaks and everybody sees supply side economics and its champion Alan Greenspan for what they truly are – a farce.

    Deficits matter and the idea of the Republican Party as fiscally conservative is a misnomer. They used to be fiscally conservative on expenditures but NEVER have they been conservative on revenue. They have always pushed for tax cuts while not “paying” for these tax cuts by decreasing spending.

    Reagan and Greenspan’s policies have nearly destroyed this country and unless people start being honest about what’s happening then we are in serious, serious trouble…

  10. Jeff:

    Thanks for the info on Social Security. I am not extremely knowledgeable in that area. The practice of giving tax cuts for the wealthy and then later screaming (by Republicans typically) that they are tax increases by the Democrats when they are discontinued is one of the most misleading tactics used.

    I will definitely be researching some more on the Reagan-Greenspan fiasco.

  11. Jeff Pruitt says:


    There’s a great book by Ravi Batra entitled “Greenspan’s Fraud” that you should check out…

  12. Fred Michel says:


    Look up the definition of a Ponzi scheme. Paying out “premiums” from deposits with with precious little, if any, return on investment (especially when you factor in inflation). Kind of describes Social Security doesn’t it? Unfortunately, almost everyone bougtht into it at the time – the President, Congress, and the voting public. So now we are all stuck with it. Who should be indicted for initating and perpetuating this Ponzi scheme? You think it just might be possible to gradually convert it into an actual investment situation where each indivdual is responsible for his/her own retirement AKA Bush’s incremental plan? If nothing else it would/should cause voters to pay more attention to the things going on long-range economically in our country. AND THEN VOICE THEIR OPINIONS AT THE POLLS!

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