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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


HYDE PARK. Friday—A story has just been sent to me that points up the need for possible changes in the Social Security laws and I think it is a story well worth bringing to the attention of our public as well as to our legislators. Here it is:

A brother and sister, both unmarried, lived together all their lives and maintained their home as a "family unit." The sister was able to work only occasionally and was not under social security, but the brother for a number of years had deductions made from his earnings which must have amounted to a good many dollars.

He died sometime ago and the sister finds that because she was only his sister, she is not eligible under the present law for the pension and other benefits for which the brother paid his share by way of deductions. In other words, all the money the brother paid into Social Security fund and which was deducted from his earnings is not available to her.

But the sister, under the present setup, gets nothing. She did receive a comparatively small sum to help defray funeral expenses. Incidentally, the brother died shortly before he reached age 65 so that he too received nothing from his Social Security investment.

If that money had not been taken from his earnings, it would have been part of his very small estate, and the sister, as his sole survivor, would now be legally entitled to it. If for no other reason should she not, in all fairness and justice, be given proper compensation in the form of a pension, as well as the other benefits provided by the law?

Cannot the Social Security Act be amended now to cover specific and proven cases such as this one—especially when there is need, and in the face of the appalling and constantly rising costs and prices? Further, why shouldn't all those deductions plus the contributions made by the employer and the government be considered as "insurance" for the benefit of persons in the position of this sister?

And now for a minute I want to take up a very curious phenomenon. There is a paper called "The Citizens Council," and for a while I think it was called the "White Citizens Council," which is published in Jackson City, Alabama, and is dedicated to "States Rights-Racial Integrity".

For the past three months it has apparently stirred up attacks on me and on a situation in Deerfield, Illinois, where an integrated housing project was attacked. A Southern-born U.S. Circuit Court judge before whom the case was brought ruled against the housing project and has done everything possible to discredit the group, which has already developed a number of successful integrated housing projects.

Of course, this Southern jurist took the Southern point of view and after rendering his decision, in speaking to reporters, said: "If the housing company was interested in integrated housing I do not think they would have built $30,000 to $40,000 homes 30 to 40 miles from the city. The whole thing smacks of a money-making scheme to me."

Frankly, while the prices for houses that this company has built vary from place to place, they build for varied income groups and as far as I know it has never been considered a sin to undertake a money-making scheme in this country.

I am proud to be associated with this group as a tiny stockholder. The Appeals Court, and if necessary the Supreme Court, will go over this case, but if we in the North are to do our job we have to have integrated housing, and someone has to build the houses.


(Copyright, 1960, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]
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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, April 23, 1960

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.