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The origins of Social Security in the United States

Social security, as a practice rather than in name, dates back much further in U.S. history than many believe. The first form of social security was passed to Americans in the form of Civil War pensions, which supported both disabled veterans, and the widows and descendants of soldiers killed in battle.

However, the institution as we now know it began with the passage of the Social Security Act of 1935, championed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In its original incarnation, the Social Security Act provided pensions only to a very narrow swath of the population, namely retired persons 65 and over.

As he signed the act into law, Roosevelt proclaimed astutely, "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."

In 1939, the act was amended to include two more categories of citizens eligible for federal payments: survivors of deceased laborers and the spouses and underage children of retirees. Though the program had been passed four years earlier, regular pension payments were not originally scheduled to begin until 1942. Another amendment made in 1939 moved the start date up to 1940.

Then, the next year, the largest social welfare program in the United States was officially actualized.

Next week, Stephen C. Brown & Associates will detail some important changes to the administration that occurred over the following decades and affected millions of Americans.

If you have been injured or fallen ill and are now unable to work, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. A New Hampshire law firm can help you file your claim and, if necessary, appeal a denial of benefits.

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