Old-age assistance is numerically and financially the most of the purely relief programs in the United States. In 1942 the total expenditures for public assistance by the several levels of government was about 998 million dollars. Of this amount, 63.0 per cent went for old-age assistance as contrasted with 17.2 per cent each for aid to dependent children and general assistance, and 2.6 per cent for aid to the blind.1 This chapter thus deals with the largest special category in the field of relief.
It will give first a broad statement of the forces that led to the provision of federal grants to the states for old-age assistance in Title I of the Social Security Act passed in 1935. The provisions of that title, as amended in 1939, will then be summarized and briefly discussed. The federal act, it will be seen, did not define need, set up a standard of living below which no elderly person could fall without becoming entitled to old-age assistance, lay down standards to be used in determining the amount of benefit, or force the states to appropriate funds. All these essential matters were left, subject to slight national influence, to the several states. It is necessary, therefore, to summarize briefly what the several states have done with respect to these matters. These subjects will be approached first from the standpoint of state plans, which include both the state laws and the rules, regulations, and procedures developed under the state laws. Then the most significant statistics relating to the program will be presented by states. The chapter will conclude with a consideration of the administrative systems which the states have adopted to carry out this grant-in-aid program. A comparison between benefits under old-age relief with those under old-age insurance will be presented in the chapter on the insurance system.____________________