You may have wondered why it takes so long to get Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (“SSDI” or “disability benefits”) or why the Social Security Administration’s rules have to be so complicated. But have you ever wondered why we even have a Social Security system?
A Little History of the Social Security System.
Long before we had the Social Security system, when people became too old or ill to work, they had….family. If they didn’t have family to support them, then they had…nothing.
After the American Civil War, for the first time our country had hundreds of thousands of widows, orphans and disabled veterans that had no way of making a living or taking care of themselves. In response to this situation, the government developed a pension program that was not social security, but had a number of interesting similarities to what would later become social security. The first national pension program for soldiers was passed in early 1776.
By 1910, military pension programs provided for Civil War veterans and their survivors. Over 90% of the remaining Civil War veterans were receiving benefits at this time. However, these military pension plans did not apply to the general population.
Some companies began to provide for older workers by withholding a percentage of the workers’ pay, placing it into a pension fund and then adding to that fund. The problem with this, however, was that by 1900, there were only 5 companies in the United States doing this. So the general public still did not have any means of retirement or disability security.
After the Great Depression of the 1930s, poverty among the elderly increased dramatically. It is estimated that by 1934, over half of all elderly Americans lacked enough income to support themselves.
Finally, spearheaded by Frances Townsend, an “old-age activist,” who proposed an “Old-Age Revolving Pension” called the “Townsend Plan” that would pay every person over 60 $200 a month, the Social Security Act was developed. On August 14, 1934, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. The Act’s purpose was to limit the effects of old age, poverty, unemployment, and the burdens of widows and fatherless children by providing financial assistance.
The Social Security Act (and the SSA itself) has gone through many changes and amendments since its beginnings in the 1930s. Controversial when it began, the Social Security Act continues to generate debate.
Social Security benefits are not a legal right (see, Flemming v. Nestor, 363 U.S. 603 (1960)) but they remain critical for the elderly, disabled and impoverished.
If you have questions about SSDI benefits, call us. We are experienced disability attorneys. We FIGHT to get our clients the benefits they deserve. We have offices throughout Missouri, and Kansas, and in Belleville/Swanson, Illinois. We have offices in several cites in Oklahoma, too. We offer free consultations and we do not get paid unless you win your case. Send us an e-mail or call 855-727-8625.