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During the Great Depression of the 1930s, unemployment devastated the lives of individuals and undercut the nation's economy. Older Americans as a group were particularly affected by this economic crisis. Improvements in medicine and public health meant people were living longer, yet many elderly Americans faced age discrimination that made it difficult to find employment. As a result, the Social Security Act (SSA) was enacted on August 14, 1935 to help older Americans deal with this problem.
This lesson engages students in the debate over Social Security that engrossed the nation during the 1930s. Students will be given the opportunity to examine the 1935 Social Security Act, and to read, listen, and watch the debates surrounding the development of this important legislation.
The activities in this lesson have students use primary source documents to develop their own points for a debate. In addition, analysis of visual, audio, and video sources will enable the students to evaluate the reasons for the creation of this act and related agency.
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