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FDR’s Statement on Signing the Social Security Act

Statement of President Franklin D. Roosevelt On His Signing the Social Security Act, August 14, 1935


Roosevelt signing Social Security Act of 1935 in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Also shown, left to right: Rep. Robert Doughton (D-NC); Sen. Robert Wagner (D-NY); Rep. John Dingell, Sr. (D-MI); Unknown man in bowtie; Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins; Senator Pat Harrison (D-MS); Congressman David L. Lewis (D-MD). Library of Congress photo, LC-US262-123278.

“Today a hope of many years’ standing is in large part fulfilled. The civilization of the past hundred years, with its startling industrial changes, has tended more and more to make life insecure. Young people have come to wonder what would be their lot when they came to old age. The man with a job has wondered how long the job would last. This Social Security measure gives at least some protection to thirty millions of our citizens who will reap direct benefits through unemployment compensation, through old-age pensions and through increased services for the protection of children and the prevention of ill health.

“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. It is a structure intended to lessen the force of possible future depressions. It will act as a protection to future Administrations against the necessity of going deeply into debt to furnish relief to the needy. The law will flatten out the peaks and valleys of deflation and of inflation. It is, in short, a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time provide the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness.

“I congratulate all of you ladies and gentlemen, all of you in the Congress, in the executive departments and all of you who come from private life, and I thank you for your splendid efforts in behalf of this sound, needed and patriotic legislation.

“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.”

How to Cite this Article: Roosevelt, F.D. (1935). Presidential Statement Signing the Social Security Act-1935. Retrieved [date accessed] from

4 Replies to “FDR’s Statement on Signing the Social Security Act”

  1. Interesting facts stated in this article, I have learned that initially social security was limited to only commerce and industrial workers and did not expand to the rest of the general workforce until 1950. One thing I have known has been in place since the 1970’s is COLA.

  2. I had always known that the Social Security was created as a social insurance program. I was surprised to learn that it was exculsive to begin with. I assume that the two area of commerce and industry must have been the largest group of empoyed or perhaps the highest paid.

    1. It is important to understand that in the beginning Social Security was essentially designed to help industrial workers and their families in “covered industries.” It did not include farming, small business, self employed, household help, federal employees, etc. The other point to keep in mind is that the SS Act consists of three parts: Unemployment Insurance, Old Age and Survivors Benefits, and the Public Welfare titles for: Aid for the Aged, Aid for the Blind and Aid for Dependent Children.

      To learn more about the time frame for the changes that resulted in today’s more universal coverage, go to the Web site for the Social Security Administration.

      Regards, Jack Hansan

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