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Collection of payroll taxes began in 1937, and benefit payments were scheduled to begin in 1942.Even as the Social Security legislation moved through the Congress in the late winter and spring of 1935, it was acknowledged by many supporters that the old-age program then under consideration was but a first step in providing comprehensive protection for American workers against loss of earnings.
The law has since 1956 required periodic appointment of Advisory Councils.) The Council's fundamental finding was an endorsement of contributory old-age insurance as a way of preventing dependency in old age and thereby reducing reliance on needs-tested assistance.This outside advisory group, which would be the first of many to study and make recommendations concerning Social Security over the years,* was instructed to study possible ways of making the program more fully effective sooner than contemplated under the 1935 law.(* Appointment of outside advisory bodies has long been institutionalized as a tradition in Social Security policymaking.Further, the Council recommended a benefit structure that, in addition to basic benefits for workers, would provide protection for aged wives, widows, and surviving children starting in 1940.Based on the Advisory Council's recommendations and recognizing the heavy dependence of most families on the male wage earner at that time, the Congress, in 1939, enacted legislation that eliminated lump-sum payroll tax refunds and provided benefits for aged wives and widows, young children of retired and deceased workers, young widows caring for a child beneficiary, and dependent parents of retired and deceased workers.