Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter on Employment by the WPA of Social Security Recipients.

December 06, 1938

My dear Governor:

I have discussed with the Deputy Works Progress Administrator your wire of November thirtieth protesting the dismissal from the Works Program of persons eligible for public assistance benefits under the Social Security Act.

The question of employing on the Works Program, persons who are eligible under the Federal law for Social Security benefits, is one to which the Works Progress Administration has given consideration over a long period of time. It involves not only the immediate problem of necessity, but a serious question of Federal policy.

It is assumed that Congress in enacting the Social Security Act intended to make provisions of a comparatively permanent nature for persons whose need is primarily due to causes other than unemployment. Under the circumstances, the Works Progress Administration feels that their first responsibility, especially in view of the fact that the number of persons whom-they can employ is limited, must necessarily be toward those unemployed persons who cannot qualify for assistance under other Federal programs.

Moreover, since the public assistance features of the Social Security Act involve the states assuming the primary responsibility for assistance to mothers of dependent children and to aged persons, both through the enactment of appropriate legislation and the appropriation of state funds, there is a serious question as to whether the Works Progress Administration would not delay the assumption of this long time responsibility by the states, if they continued to employ such persons on the Federal Works Program.

Very sincerely yours,

His Excellency

A. Harry Moore,

Governor of New Jersey,

Trenton, New Jersey.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter on Employment by the WPA of Social Security Recipients. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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