CHAPTER V
OLD-AGE AND SURVIVORS INSURANCE

The Social Security Act of 1935 established a national system of no-means test old-age insurance for certain classes of salary and wage workers. In 1939 this insurance system was radically amended and its name was changed to old-age and survivors insurance. Because of limitations of space, the present chapter will deal almost entirely with the system adopted under the 1939 amendments, since that is the system the country now has.

At the outset the system will be described in broad outline. The outline will be followed by a more detailed analysis of the following subjects: contributions and finance, the benefit formula, who is actually insured, coverage, the possible beneficiaries and equities, forfeitures and options, including comparisons with private voluntary insurance. At the end of the chapter some comparisons will be made between old-age and survivors insurance and old-age assistance.

By way of general introduction it should perhaps be said that the old-age insurance system adopted in 1935 bore many resemblances to a modern retirement system adopted by public or private employers in the joint interests of themselves and their employees. The 1939 amendments made it far less like a modern retirement system and much more a social welfare system for meeting the needs of covered employees whose average earnings while under coverage are low and for making provisions for dependents and survivors. Despite these changes in the direction of a social welfare system, many of the concepts and practices of private voluntary insurance and individual employer retirement systems were preserved.

Use of the name insurance and preservation of some of the concepts and practices of more orthodox voluntary insurance necessitate examination of the system from a technical stand- point. Does the old-age and survivors insurance system comply with the standards that over the years have been developed

-74-

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