Social Security Anniversary


On August 14, 1935, 78 years ago, the Social Security Act (H.R. 7260, Public Law No. 271, 74th Congress) became law. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the legislation at approximately 3:30 p.m. on a Wednesday.

When signing the legislation, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, in part, “Today a hope of many years’ standing is in large part fulfilled. … 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. … This law, too, represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete.  … If the Senate and the House of Representatives in this long and arduous session had done nothing more than pass this Bill, the session would be regarded as historic for all time.”

Described in its preamble as “An act to provide for the general welfare by establishing a system of Federal old-age benefits, and by enabling the several States to make more adequate provision for aged persons, blind persons, dependent and crippled children, maternal and child welfare, public health, and the administration of their unemployment compensation laws; to establish a Social Security Board; to raise revenue; and for other purposes. …,” the Social Security Act of 1935 included more than what we now think of as Social Security. The Act also included unemployment insurance, old-age assistance, aid to dependent children and grants to the states to provide various forms of medical care.

What we think of as Social Security was only Title II of the Act (Title II – Federal Old-Age Benefits), since evolved into the three Social Security programs of today, known as OASDI for Old Age (Retirement), Survivors and Disability Insurance. 

Nationally as of December 2012, approximately 18.1 percent of the United States population receives a monthly SSA benefit of some type. About 17.5 percent of the North Dakota population receives Social Security, 17.2 percent in Minnesota, and 19.1 percent in South Dakota. 

 Learn how many people receive Social Security retirement, survivors and disability benefits, and the monthly totals of those benefits, for your state and county here (as of December 2012).

More about the original Social Security Act and the evolution of Social Security is at