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Statement by the President Upon Signing the Social Security Act Amendments.

August 28, 1950

I HAVE today approved H.R. 6000, the Social Security Act Amendments of 1950. These amendments greatly strengthen the old-age and survivors insurance system and the public assistance programs originally established by the Social Security Act of 1935.

The passage of this legislation is an outstanding achievement. In this act the 81st Congress has doubled insurance benefits and brought 10 million more persons under oldage and survivors insurance--including those whose insurance rights were taken away by the 80th Congress. Millions of others will benefit from the new public assistance provisions giving help to the disabled and to dependent children. For the first time American citizens in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will be covered under both the insurance and assistance programs. In addition, veterans of World War II will now receive wage credits for military service in computing their insurance benefits.

This act will help a great many people right away. Three million aged persons, widows, and orphans will receive increased insurance benefits beginning with the month of September. A million more will begin to receive increased payments within the next few months. Nearly 3 million needy persons will benefit from increased Federal aid to the States for public assistance purposes.

By making it possible for most families to obtain protection through the contributory insurance system, and by increasing insurance benefits, the act will ultimately reduce dependence on public charity. This measure demonstrates our determination to achieve real economic security for the American family. This kind of progressive, forward-looking legislation is the best possible way to prove that our democratic institutions can provide both freedom and security for all our citizens.

We still have much to do before our social security programs are fully adequate. While the new act greatly increases coverage, many more people still need to be brought into the old-age and survivors insurance system. Expanded coverage and increased benefits in old-age insurance should now be matched by steps to strengthen our unemployment insurance system. At the same time, we urgently need a system of insurance against loss of wages through temporary or permanent disability. These and other vital improvements in our social security laws are needed in addition to the act which I have signed today. I shall continue to urge action on this unfinished business and I know that the committees of Congress are now preparing to give these matters serious consideration.

There is one very unfortunate feature in the new law. This is the so-called Knowland amendment, tacked on as a rider in the Senate. It may result in undermining the safeguards enacted by the Congress to protect workers against loss of unemployment insurance benefits if they refused to accept employment at substandard wages or working conditions. This amendment has nothing whatever to do with old-age insurance or public assistance, the main subjects of the new law. While the other provisions of the bill were the product of thorough consideration in the committees of both Houses, neither committee ever had an opportunity to hold hearings on the Knowland amendment. I trust that the Congress will reconsider this ill-advised provision and will act promptly to remove it from the social security laws.

Both the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance have already announced that they intend to study proposals for further improvement in our social security programs. Members of these committees have worked long and faithfully on the act which I have signed today. I am confident that their future efforts will be equally productive in advancing social security in this country.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 6000 is Public Law 734, 81st Congress (64 Stat. 477).

Harry S Truman, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Social Security Act Amendments. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230176

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