Social Security Act of 1935


Social Security Act

Debate on the House version of the Social Security Act began on April 11, 1935. Eight days later, the vote was taken: 372 voted for the bill, 33 voted against. The Senate version of the bill was approved by the Finance Committee on May 13, and introduced in the Senate on June 12 for debate. A week later, the Senate vote on the bill counted 77 yeas and 6 nays, with 12 not voting. A Conference Committee was then established to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. On August 8, the House of Representatives made a final vote to favor of the bill, and the Senate gave its final approval the next day. The Act was signed into law by President Roosevelt on August 14, just eight months after the initial report of the Committee on Economic Security.

Upon signing the Act, a three-person Social Security Board was created to administer the new programs. The first Chairman was John Winant, who served until 1937, when he was replaced by Arthur Altmeyer. Altmeyer guided the agency through the reorganization of 1946, when the Social Security Board was replaced by the Social Security Administration. It is the SSA which continues to govern and administer the social security programs today.



As you read the document, reflect on the following questions:

  • What does the Preamble state were the goals of the Act?
  • Read Title IV, Sections 401 and 406. How does this final version compare with the language proposed by the NCCC? (Click here to read the proposal.)
  • Do you think the NCCC helped shape the final language of the Act? Why or why not?