The Main Stem
THE LANDMARK AMENDMENTS of 1939 occurred within four years of the enactment of the Social Security Act itself. Eleven years were to elapse before amendments of similar significance were added. The 1950 amendments would be passed after Harry Truman became President in his own right. During World War II and for five years after, the Social Security Board had to work with what it had. Because what it had was considerable, this period of legislative barrenness offered an opportunity to look inward, specifically to focus on administration, perhaps even to achieve, through creative interpretation in rule and regulation, a liberalization of policy and practice, an advance toward the goal of protection against the hazards and vicissitudes of life.
During the war years the social workers extended and consolidated their influence over the administration of public assistance programs. A good part of their success resulted from the 1939 amendments, specifically the increase in federal authority in regard to state personnel and the requirement for consideration of income and resources in establishing need. The transfer of a large share of the board's auditing function from the Bureau of Accounts and Audits to the Bureau of Public Assistance in 1940 further enhanced the bureau's direct influence on state administration. Finally, the