Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, SSA

On August 14, Americans celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Social Security Act. In that year, 1935, the United States was very slowly recovering to a normal economy from the stock market crash of 1929. Those years are remembered as “the Great Depression.”

There was a very long way the economy had to go. The country faced many unanticipated problems, one being the drought of the “Dust Bowl.” I grew up in this era and can vividly recall seeing people standing on long lines to get a package for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner from a local brewery. I can remember seeing men and an occasional woman selling fruit on street corners.

One of the purposes behind the passing of the Social Security Act was to say to the average working person that they would be able to have a retirement. When one reached the ripe old age of 65 they could sign on for the benefits.

Every working person, from that day forward, saw that money was withheld from his or her salary and that was in addition to what the employer matched. There were exceptions, government (state and federal) employees did not qualify and there were several others. The Social Security Act was passed to provide many additional benefits: Old Age Assistance, Aid to the Blind, Aid to Dependent Children, Maternal and Child Health, Crippled Children, Child Welfare, and Public Health.

What was accomplished at that time was that many citizens felt that the yoke around their neck, poverty, was loosened and that they would now be able to age gracefully and earn the right to be able to retire.

It is now 75 years later. This was a big turning point in our country. It was one of the major factors in bringing the country back to normal. All I want to say is “Happy Birthday” to the 1935 Social Security Act.

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