Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter Recommending Legislation Amending the Social Security Act

December 14, 1937

My dear Senator:

Mr. Altmeyer, Chairman of the Social Security Board, has submitted to me some non-controversial amendments to the Social Security Act. In brief, they cover the points listed in the attached memorandum. I feel they are of sufficient importance to warrant their passage at the earliest possible date.

As these amendments will considerably improve the effectiveness of this important Act, I have asked Chairman Altmeyer to discuss this matter with you personally. Best wishes to you.

Very sincerely yours,

Honorable Pat Harrison,
United States Senate,
Washington, D. C.

Summary of Amendments to the Social Security Act, Forwarded with the foregoing letter.

1. To pay death claims direct to the wife or dependent children and save expense of probating estates—as in veterans' laws. This would save real money to the widow and to the Board.

2. To change "wages payable" in unemployment compensation to "wages paid" as in old-age insurance and permit a duplicate list of wage payments and so complete our efforts greatly to simplify employers' wage reports.

3. To enable "merit rating" to work by making technical changes. It becomes effective in Wisconsin, January 1, 1938.

4. To permit earlier payment of unemployment compensation in states that passed their laws late. For two years funds have been built up in these states. With increasing unemployment this will get money earlier to those laid off.

5. To permit persons now 60 and over to continue working through 1941 to qualify upon retirement for monthly old-age annuities instead of receiving small lump sum payments. A great gain all around.

6. To increase coverage

a. To seamen on American vessels. Approved by Maritime Commission and the International Seamen's Union and the National Maritime Union.

b. To employees of national banks, state banks that are members of the Federal Reserve System, institutions that are members of the Home Loan Bank system, and the like. The American Bankers Association approves.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter Recommending Legislation Amending the Social Security Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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