- The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Social Policy
- List of Contributors
- The Fragmented American Welfare State: Putting the Pieces Together
- Social Provision before the Twentieth Century
- The Progressive Era
- The Great Depression and World War II
- From the Fair Deal to the Great Society
- The U.S. Welfare State Since 1970
- A Cross-National Perspective on the American Welfare State
- Cultural Influences on Social Policy Development
- Political Institutions and U.S. Social Policy
- Political Parties and Social Policy
- Interest Groups
- Constituencies and Public Opinion
- Race and Ethnicity in U.S. Social Policy
- Social Security
- Private Pensions
- Long-Term Care for the Elderly
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- The Politics of Supporting Low-Wage Workers and Families
- Food Assistance Programs and Food Security
- Public Housing and Vouchers
- Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income
- Workers’ Compensation
- Unemployment Insurance
- Care and Work-Family Policies
- Homeownership Policy
- Private Health Insurance: Tax Breaks, Regulation, and Politics
- Pension and Health Benefits for Public-Sector Workers
- Social Programs for Soldiers and Veterans
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter considers the history of Social Security, arguing that the 1950 amendments represented the fundamental adjustment that allowed the program’s long-term survival. It analyzes current issues in Social Security related to gender, race, and the program’s long-term solvency. It concludes that Social Security has legitimized the receipt of government benefits among many Americans and changed the nature of old age in the United States by providing older people with a guaranteed means of support. A large and costly program, Social Security has evolved into the United States’ major antipoverty program. Nonetheless it faces the criticism of those who argue that it favors older people over other age groups and that it represents an inefficient form of government coercion. Whether the program will be sustained in the future or modified in a significant way remains a critical question.
Larry DeWitt is a public historian with the Office of Publications and Logistics Management, Social Security Administration.
Edward D. Berkowitz is Professor of History and of Public Policy and Public Administration at the George Washington University.
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