1950s US Social Welfare System: Your Social Security 1940 – CharlieDeanArchives / Archival Footage

our story begins with a young lady named Margaret Oliver you oughta meet Margaret Oliver because she's working for you as a matter of fact she's working for four out of every five Americans you see Margaret Oliver is your representative at the Social Security Administration her job is to tell you what your rights are and to make sure that you understand what Social Security means to you and to see to it that you receive the money you're entitled to promptly when it's due just as she's helping these people and scores like them every day a story of Margaret Oliver's work and your Social Security goes back a long way when this was a portrait of the future for millions of Americans when they reached old age they found themselves lacking the means to meet even their barest needs and so they were forced to become Ward's of public charity denied the dignity of a happy urn security their declining years became a period of hopeless waiting along these people could not work out the picture of a happy old age something had to be done something was done in 1935 Franklin D Roosevelt put his signature on the Social Security Act this social security measure gives at least some protection to 30 millions of our citizens who will reach direct benefits through unemployment compensation to old-age pension and through increased services for the protection of children and the prevention of ill health then 15 years later Congress passed a new social security law a law designed to meet today's needs signed by President Truman in 1950 this Act gives Social Security a new meaning for you and so today this is the portrait of the future a picture which social-security helped make possible under the Social Security Act most American families are now able to insure for themselves an income that is guaranteed for life it's an income provided not by charity or relief but by federal old-age and survivors insurance insurance that is bought and paid for here's how it works old-age and survivors insurance is earned by most of us because most jobs are now covered by the Social Security Act after working about a year and a half you become insured for the next year and a half from then on you're insured for an additional year for each six months that you work at the end of ten years of work you are insured for the rest of your life a special provision in the law makes it easier for people already past middle age to become insured the amount of work they need depends on how soon they'll reach 65 and if you are nearing 65 or if you've already passed that age you may need as little as a year and a half of work performed at any time since 1936 to become insured for life contributions based on your earnings made regularly by you and millions of your fellow workers plus equal contributions made by your employers pay for the program these contributions are collected by the federal government the government then holds them in trust for payment of benefits to you and your family when these benefits become due the government guarantees regular monthly payments payments begin whenever you retire after you're 65 or after you're 75 even if you keep on working they continue as long as you live after your death payments continue to your wife if she is over 65 if you should die while your children are under 18 famous will go to your wife and children no matter what your age was or if you have no family and we're supporting your parents monthly payments will be made to them when they reach 65 federal old-age and survivors insurance is exactly what the name implies it is insurance that you and your employer have bought and paid for this insurance is important not only to you it's important to your wife your children your parents and it's important to your employer who helps pay the premiums who is covered by the Social Security Act people like these most people who work for themselves and most people who work for others 45 million jobs are covered by Social Security and the chances are that you will work in one of them that's why it's vitally important that you fully understand the Social Security Act and that's why across the nation hundreds of social security field offices have been set up to serve you the duty of every person in these field offices managers receptionists field representatives and claims assistants like Margaret Oliver is to give you the greatest possible service and assistance since January 1951 a lot of people coming into field offices are workers whose jobs are covered under the new Act here they take a momentous step applying for Social Security cards naturally many have questions it's the claims assistants job to know the answers Tom Reynolds here is self-employed and like almost five million others who own their own trades or businesses he is covered by the new Social Security Law he will report his earnings every year when he pays his federal income tax perhaps for you like him old age is a long way off and when you reach 65 you may decide to continue working your social security account doesn't mean that you intend to retire once the account has been open the key to your future is in your own hands this is the key behind it are monthly payments that will be waiting for you if you retire after 65 or after 75 whether you retire or not they will also be ready for your family when you die whether you've reached 65 or not or suppose that this is your office a big white barn on a Midwestern farm suppose you're a farm man like Alvin Dekker here then you two probably will be covered by the new law when you've worked regularly for five months on one farm old age insurance will be mighty comforting when you're no longer fit for work like this that's why you need to get your Social Security card now we're at your Social Security office or go to the post office if there's no Social Security office near your home at the post office you can get an application for your Social Security card your card will be sent to you by mail after you fill in this application and mail it as soon as you get the card show it to your employer you'll need it on payday or you must deduct from your salary one and a half percent of your earnings as your share of the cost of social security on Alvin Decker's fifty dollar salary this comes to seventy-five cents any questions you may have can be answered in this leaflet on Social Security for farm workers or by the claims assistant at your nearest field office that's where Margaret Oliver comes in again she's here to give you the best possible service and assistance especially if yours is a job covered by the new law if like Mildred Andersen you are regularly employed as a household worker your job is covered by the new law today when you add the regular monthly income you're building up through old-age and survivors insurance to your savings you can see a happy future that's what this card means in your hands and in the hands of your employer for the entire success of the program as far as you are concerned depends to a large extent on your employers cooperation this booklet tells your employer how easy it is for her to do her part it's just a matter of filling out a brief form four times a year putting the required amount of money into an envelope and mailing it by this cooperation your employer is helping to ensure that like Mildred Andersen you will have a monthly income when you are ready to retire yes household workers are now among the people covered by the new Social Security Act since it was passed Social Security field offices are busier than ever before millions more workers are insured today than previously the new workers whom these field office people are serving include some employees of state and local governments some employees of nonprofit institutions people who are self-employed and those who work regularly in private households or on farms if you can't go to the field office the field office goes to you in the person of a field representative from the nearest Social Security field office he makes regular visits to a central place in small towns you can find out when you'll be in your community by writing or telephoning the field office and if because of age or illness you are enabled to come to meet him while he's there you'll be glad to call on you Social Security is a highly personal matter and the job of the representatives in the field offices is to maintain personal contact between you and your Social Security Administration behind them stands an organization that keeps track of your earnings through the years its headquarters are here in the candor building in Baltimore Maryland this central accounting and bookkeeping system enables the government to fulfill its part in your Social Security more than 117 million personal records are listed here the names Social Security account numbers and birthdays of seven hundred and forty six thousand people named brown four hundred and eighty four thousand people named Davis 605,000 people named jones and more than a million people named smith if you have a Social Security card your name is here your name and enough other information to identify you positively regardless of how many other people have names identical to yours these bookkeeping operations are as modern and efficient as mechanical ingenuity can make them the machines are the latest and the best they have to be to handle nearly three-quarters of a million personal records every day and they are one of the reasons less than three cents of the Social Security tax dollar is all it costs to administer the entire old-age and survivors insurance program mechanical efficiency may be the key note but the facts that these machines are dealing with are highly personal a record of your earnings and your contribution toward your future security your name your social security number your birth date your wages personal information that by law must be held in the strictest confidence year by year your wage credits build up credits that mean earn security for you and your family when the time comes whether it's 30 years from now or tomorrow those credits will be converted into checks checks like these but with your name on them checks which represent the benefits of insurance that is bought and paid for and every month these checks are put into envelopes by machines and they go out to people like this the amount of your check depends on how much you earned the maximum any family can get is a hundred and fifty dollars a month the Lester Steve's retired get ninety five dollars a month Geraldine butcher widow gets fifty seven dollars a month Nancy Ferguson dependent parent gets 43 dollars a month based on the earnings of the daughter whom she survives and who was her chief support and Alice Winton widowed mother of two children gets the a hundred and fifty dollar monthly maximum until her children are 18 to get checks like these one day yourself you must do two things first like young Alvin Robert brush here you must apply for a Social Security card this car that Alvin is getting is his key to social security it is his key to a secure old age if your job is covered by the law you too need a social security card it is the only way to start your social security record the second thing you must do yourself as trial Shearer here is doing is to file your claim for benefit payments whether you are claiming old-age retirement payments or survivors payments as a widow child or parent this claim is notice to the government that payments are to you serving this notice is your responsibility your Social Security card represents an insurance policy a policy through which you can build a foundation of security for yourself and your family as a person who is buying and paying for this insurance or as a beneficiary you are entitled to information guidance and service in all matters that concern it that service is available to you without charge behind doors like these doors to more than 500 field offices throughout the nation behind those doors you will find men and women like these carefully selected and thoroughly trained people working for you like Margaret Oliver helping you get the most out of your Social Security

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