Federal Assistance to the Aged

November 12, 1934

Report Outline
Social Legislation in the Next Congress
The Problem of Old-Age Dependency
Methods of Providing Old-Age Security
Foreign Old-Age Pension Systems
State Old-Age Pensions in America
Proposals for Federal Legislation
Special Focus

Social Legislation in the Next Congress

Growth of Public Sentiment for Old-Age Assistance

President roosevelt will present to the next Congress a program of social legislation proposing public assistance for both unemployed and aged persons. Notice of his intention to do so was given in a special message of June 8, 1934, toward the close of the last session of Congress. The Democratic platform of 1932 advocated “unemployment and old age insurance under state laws.” The President is expected to propose a combined state-federal system of social insurance, including both old-age and unemployment insurance.

I believe there should be a maximum of cooperation between states and the federal government [he said in his message of June 8]. I believe that the funds necessary to provide this insurance should be raised by contribution rather than by an increase in general taxation. Above all, I am convinced that social insurance should be national in scope, although the several states should meet at least a large portion of the cost of management, leaving to the federal government the responsibility of investing, maintaining, and safeguarding the funds constituting the insurance reserves.

The Railroad Retirement Act, passed during the closing days of the last session, and later represented as the “first step in the administration's program of social legislation,” was invalidated by the District of Columbia Supreme Court on October 24. The act was not proposed by the administration, although later approved by the President. It provided for the creation of an old-age pension fund, under federal supervision, by contributions from both the carriers and their employees.

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Jul. 26, 1938  Revision of the Social Security Act
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Nov. 12, 1934  Federal Assistance to the Aged
Aug. 23, 1930  Public Old-Age Pensions
Aging Issues
Retirement, Pensions, and Social Security