Imagine yourself as an elderly American in the early 1930s. You live with your daughter’s family on her farm but then the normally abundant crops begin to die due to drought conditions. Your daughter is struggling to take care of her own children and fears she cannot care for you any longer. The support system you thought you had—your family—crumbles. Where do you look for help?

The U.S. Social Security Act of 1935 was created during the Great Depression to be a safety net for older people in such situations. In this Discussion, you examine the Social Security Act and the populations it assisted in the 1930s and today.

Identify two reasons why the U.S. Social Security Act (1935) was developed.
Explain the requirements for older adults receiving social security benefits (e.g., age requirements, marital status).
Compare the needs of the populations served in 1935 and older adults today.
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Sample Answer

If I were an elderly American in the early 1930s living with my daughter’s family on her farm during the Dust Bowl, I would look for help in the following places:

  • Extended family: I would reach out to other extended family members, such as siblings, nieces, and nephews, to see if they could provide me with a home or financial assistance.
  • Neighbors: I would also reach out to my neighbors to see if they could help me with food, chores, or transportation.
  • Local church: My local church may have been able to provide me with food, clothing, and shelter, as well as emotional support.

Full Answer Section

  • Charities: There were a number of charities operating during the Dust Bowl, such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, which provided assistance to people in need.
  • Government programs: The New Deal, which was enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression, included a number of programs that provided assistance to the elderly, such as the Social Security Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps.

It is important to note that many of these resources were scarce during the Dust Bowl, and it may have been difficult to obtain assistance. However, these are some of the places where I would have looked for help if I were in that situation.

In addition to the above, I would also try to find ways to support myself. For example, I might try to find a part-time job, or I might try to sell goods or services that I could produce. I would also try to stay involved in my community, as this could help me to feel connected and supported.

The Dust Bowl was a difficult time for many Americans, but it is important to remember that there were people who were willing to help. If I were in that situation, I would try to reach out for help as needed.

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