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Wilbur J. Cohen and the Expansion of Social Security

We tend to think of the expansion of social security as something impersonal and bureaucratic. It is almost as if the program expanded by itself. The basic old-age insurance program never posed issues that defined the political or cultural character of an era. Yet we know that the process of social security’s growth was neither smooth nor straight forward. Continue Reading »

Framing the Future Social Security Debate

Having recently completed work on a documentary history of the Social Security program1, several insights suggest themselves which might be useful in framing the (inevitable) future debates over Social Security policy. The first and most salient realization is that to a remarkable degree the policy debates in Social Security seem to contain some hardy perennials.Continue Reading »

The Scientific View of Social Work

Since its inception social work has struggled with the questions of the extent to which it should use and it could have confidence in basing practice on knowledge derived from the social and biological sciences. The Scientific Basis of Social Work is a volume that gives an emphatic yes to this query Continue Reading »

More Than Sixty Years With Social Group Work

A personal and professional history written by Catherine P. Papell, Professor Emerita, Adelphi University School of Social Work. “Personal history is not Truth with a capital T. It is the way the past was experienced and the way the teller sees it. “Continue Reading »

Workmen’s Compensation

In the drive for social justice, a new attitude began to reveal itself in trying to mitigate the evils of industrialization. One of these was in the area of safety. After the Civil War, numerous States attempted to establish–by statute–minimum safety standards for various types of industrial workers. Continue Reading »

Widows’ Pensions

Widows’ Pensions by Dr. June Hopkins, Armstrong Atlantic State University   Note: This article is an excerpt from Dr. Hopkins’ book, Harry Hopkins: Sudden Hero, Brash Reformer. “There is always the danger that in our dread of making people dependent we shall cease to do good for fear of doing harm.” Harry Hopkins, 1914 The Origins… Continue Reading »

Widows Pensions: An Introduction

Adhering closely to the Progressive credo of scientific investigation into municipal problems, the Bureau of Municipal Research in New York City conducted numerous studies of social, economic, and political issues in the early twentieth century. It was largely a male preserve, which sought to apply scientific and business practices to urban government. Following the passage… Continue Reading »

Social Security: Unemployment Insurance

“The fundamental case for unemployment protection lies in the fact that under a democratic form of society we are forced to prevent any large-scale starvation. Funds must be provided somehow . . . It is practical sense to build a system which will gather the funds in good times and disburse them in bad times. This simple theory underlies all formal proposals for unemployment insurance, for unemployment reserves.” Stanley King in American Labor Legislation Review, December 1933, p. 170.Continue Reading »

Social Security: Old Age Survivors Insurance Programs

Social security is the term commonly used to describe the Old Age, Survivors Insurance program (OASI) created by Title II of the Social Security Act of 1935. The original OASDI legislation was developed as one part of the federal response to the economic vulnerabilities of workers and their families revealed by the Great Depression of the 1930s. Continue Reading »

FDR’s Statement on Signing the Social Security Act

“Social Security” is the term commonly used to describe the federal retirement benefit program created by Title II of the Social Security Act of 1935. Title II, labeled FEDERAL OLD-AGE BENEFITS, created a “universal contributory social insurance” program designed to protect workers and their families against loss of income due to retirement or the death of a wage earner. Initially, to be eligible for Social Security a wage earner must have worked in covered employment, earned at least $2,000 and attained the age of 65. (Note: Initially, “covered employment” was very narrowly defined, limited mainly to paid work in manufacturing and commerce. As described in Section 210 below, large segments of the working population were exempt from coverage.)Continue Reading »

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