Relief Rolls in Prosperity

August 17, 1951

Report Outline
Controversy Over Publicity of Relief Rolls
Social Insurance Vs. Public Assistance
Federal Contribution to Assistance Costs
Restriction of Aid to Persons in Need
Special Focus

Controversy Over Publicity of Relief Rolls

With employment now at an all-time high, and less than a year after ten million additional workers were brought under old-age and survivors insurance by an act approved August 28, 1950, Congress is considering further important changes in the social security system. The Senate has already voted to raise the federal contribution to public assistance payments of the states by about $140 million a year, and a bill by Sen. Humphrey (D., Minn.) would increase payments under the old-age insurance system by about $265 million annually. The Senate has also voted in effect to repeal provisions of the Social Security Act which require that information on individuals receiving public assistance be kept confidential.

An amendment by Majority Leader McFarland (D., Ariz.) and 22 other senators, adopted by a voice vote on July 18, would raise the federal share of assistance payments so that needy aged, blind, and disabled persons would get $3 more a month, and dependent children $2 more a month. An amendment by Jenner (R., Ind,), adopted 38 to 30 on the following day, would lift the bar against publication of public assistance rolls.

The Jenner amendment was supported on the ground that it would deter chiseling on relief, but its immediate inspiration was the danger in which the author's home state now stands of losing $18 million a year of federal public assistance grants. Federal Security Administrator Ewing has ruled that a law enacted by the Indiana legislature this spring making names, addresses, and payments of persons receiving public assistance matters of public record, open to public inspection, is not in conformity with present provisions of the Social Security Act. The effect of Ewing's ruling, unless overthrown by the courts or invalidated by Congress, will be to make the state ineligible to receive further public assistance funds from Washington so long as its present law remains on the statute books.

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