Washington Law Review


Vern Countryman


Two decades ago, recognition of a governmental duty to care for the aged who had no means of support had gone no further than to provide for their maintenance in almshouses and poor farms. But in 1922 the American Association for Labor Legislation and the Fraternal Order of Eagles began a campaign to abolish the poorhouse system and to substitute for it a proposed Old Age Pension Act providing for monthly grants to needy aged persons from funds to be raised by county governments. Washington adopted this act in 1933 and by the end of the following year 28 states had enacted a similar type of old age assistance law. Two years later, Congress passed the Social Security Act, introducing another innovation. This Act contemplated a uniform system of old age assistance on a, nation-wide scale, to be accomplished through state cooperation induced by a system of federal grants-in-aid. By September, 1938, a plan to comply with the requirements of the federal scheme was in effect in every state in the Union, in the District of Columbia, and in Alaska and Hawaii.

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