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Article

Allan Moscovitch

Leonard Charles Marsh (1906–1982) is best known for his wartime report on Social Security in Canada, a comprehensive blueprint on the development of a postwar welfare state for Canada.

Article

Maryann Syers

Abraham Epstein (1892–1942) was an economist, educator, and writer. He was a leader in the post-World War I movement for passage of social security legislation. In 1927 he founded the American Association for Old Age Security (later the American Association for Social Security).

Article

Iris Carlton-LaNey

This entry traces American social welfare development from the 1890s to 1950. It also includes social work's participation and response to need during two critical times in American history: the Progressive Era and the New Deal. Social reformers were instrumental in the development of social legislation, including the establishment of the Children's Bureau as well as the development of a public welfare system at the state level. America's response to human suffering left many groups, such American Indians, African Americans, and Asians, marginalized. In response, African Americans established a parallel system of private relief through organizations such as the National Urban League, unlike the other racial groups.

Article

Larraine M. Edwards

Isaac Max Rubinow (1875–1936) was a consultant to the President's Committee on Economic Security and director of the Jewish Welfare Society of Philadelphia. He led the American social insurance movement and contributed to Jewish American welfare programs.

Article

Robert Perlman

Charles Irwin Schottland (1906–1994) was a leader in social welfare policy making and founder of an innovative school of advanced studies in social welfare at Brandeis University. As Commissioner of Social Security he initiated significant changes in social security law.

Article

Eric R. Kingson, Dana Bell, and Sarah Shive

This entry examines why our nation’s Social Security system was built, what it does, and what must be done to maintain and improve this foundational system for current and future generations. After a discussion of the social insurance approach to economic security and its underlying principles and values, the evolution of America’s Social Security system is reviewed—beginning with the enactment of the Social Security Act of 1935, through its incremental development, to the changed politics of Social Security since the mid-1990s. Next, program benefits and financing are described and contemporary challenges and related policy options are identified, in terms of both the program’s projected shortfall and the public’s need for expanded retirement, disability, and survivorship protections. The entry concludes by noting that social workers have an important role to play in shaping Social Security’s future.

Article

Jean K. Quam

Grace Abbott (1878–1939) was a teacher who went on to become Director of the Immigrants Protective League of Chicago and Director of the U.S. Children's Bureau. In 1934 she became professor of public welfare at the University of Chicago.

Article

Roland L. Guyotte

Wilbur Cohen (1913–1987) was secretary of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and chief architect of Medicare and Medicaid. He drafted the Social Security Act and, from the 1930s to the 1980s, developed its scope and defended it from cutbacks.

Article

Between 1950 and 1980, the United States developed a welfare state that in many ways was comparable to those of other advanced industrial nations. Building on its New Deal roots, the Social Security system came to provide a “social wage” to older Americans, people with disability, and the dependents of deceased workers. It created a health-care insurance system for the elderly, the disabled, and the poor. Using the tax system in innovative ways, the government encouraged the expansion of pension and health-care protection for a majority of workers and their families. By 1980, some Americans could argue that their identification as a “laggard” in the field of social provision was no longer justified.

Article

James Midgley

Lord William Beveridge (1879–1963) was one of the founders of the British welfare state. His report of 1942 formed the basis for the Labour Government's social policies between 1945 and 1950 and fostered the creation of Britain's national health services.

Article

Paul Terrell

Workers' Compensation is a form of social insurance financed and administered by each of the 50 states, the federal government (for federal workers), and the District of Columbia that protects workers and their families from some of the economic consequences of workplace-related accidents and illnesses.

Article

Jean K. Quam

Arthur J. Altmeyer (1891–1972) was an administrator in Washington, DC from 1934 to 1953. He was a leader of social welfare policy and helped design and implement the Social Security Act of 1935.

Article

Eric R. Kingson

Elizabeth Wickenden (1909–2001) was a social work administrator and advisor, policy writer, and advocate. In the 1950s, she launched an effective coalition of social welfare and labor organizations, known as the “Wicky Lobby.” A pioneering legal rights advocate, she advanced legal services and class action strategies on behalf of public assistance and child welfare clients.

Article

John F. Longres

Eveline Mabel Burns (1900–1985) was a social economist and educator at Columbia University. She helped formulate the original Social Security Act and directed research that shaped public assistance and work programs through the 1940s.

Article

Juliana Svistova, Loretta Pyles, and Arielle Dylan

As awareness has grown about the damage being done to the natural environment, limits of the earth’s finite resources, and the realities of climate change, environmental advocates have demanded sustainable development practices so that future generations will be able to meet their needs. Meanwhile, the widespread exploitation of workers in the industrial sector triggered the labor movement’s fight for social-economic justice. This focus on socio-economic justice that characterizes the labor movements is enlarged in the “sustainable development” framework which articulates triple bottom line practices that emphasize the interconnectedness of people, planet, and profit. The social work profession has joined these efforts, expanding its notion of the person-in-environment as it advocates for the needs of individuals, families, organizations, and communities. However, some scholars have problematized “sustainability,” questioning what exactly is being sustained, how sustainability is measured/evaluated, and who benefits.

Article

Philip R. Popple

Formal or institutional social services began in the United States in the late 19th century as a response to problems that were rapidly increasing as a result of modernization. These services were almost entirely private until the Great Depression in the 1930s when the government became involved via provisions of the Social Security Act. Services expanded greatly, beginning in the 1960s when the federal government developed a system wherein services were supported by public funds but provided through contracts with private agencies. This trend has continued and expanded, resulting in a uniquely American system wherein private agencies serve as vehicles for government social service policy.

Article

Jean K. Quam

Frances Perkins (1882–1965) was the first female U.S. Cabinet member, appointed secretary of labor in 1933 by Franklin D. Roosevelt. She helped standardize state industrial legislation, promoted the adoption of the social security system, and pushed for improved workers' conditions.

Article

Jeanette C. Takamura

Public policy advances in the field of aging in the United States have lagged compared to the growth of the older adult population. Policy adjustments have been driven by ideological perspectives and have been largely incremental. In recent years, conservative policy makers have sought through various legislative vehicles to eliminate or curb entitlement programs, proposing private sector solutions and touting the importance of an “ownership society” in which individual citizens assume personal responsibility for their economic and health security. The election of a Democratic majority in the U.S. House and the slim margin of votes held by Democrats in the U.S. Senate may mean a shift in aging policy directions that strengthens Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, if the newly elected members are able to maintain their seats over time. The results of the 2008 presidential election will also determine how the social, economic, and other policy concerns will be addressed as the baby boomers join the ranks of older Americans.