A Study of the Means Tests in the Odd Age Assistance Programs in the United States, 1935 to 1945

Ralph Abramson, Fordham University


Background of the Study. The writer first became interested in the broad field of Old Age Assistance while employed as a Social Investigator in the New York City Department of Welfare While working as an Intake Inter viewer, the writer was impressed by the fact that many old persons, owning their own homes, while apparently eligible for Old Age Assistance under the laws of the State of New York, declined to follow through with their applications for assistance, when they learned that the City in exchange for granting assistance, would execute a lien on their property; the lien amounting to a promise to repay whatever assistance was advanced, secured by the property owned. The applicants would become bitter upon learning of the above condition with respect to their property, and feel that property owners were being discriminated against Many of them would state, justifiably it seemed to the writer, that "they couldn't eat the property." Many of them expressed the desire of leaving their property to their children after their death, and feared that any action in the form of the execution of a bond and mortgage by the Department of Welfare would cloud the title of their property and would cause inconvenience, if not harm to their children. They would rather continue their existing state of need without much hope of improving their circumstances, rather than receive assistance under the conditions its was offered to them.

Subject Area

Social work|Social research|Social studies education

Recommended Citation

Abramson, Ralph, "A Study of the Means Tests in the Odd Age Assistance Programs in the United States, 1935 to 1945" (1951). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30724923.