Administrative Burden

Administrative Burden

Policymaking by Other Means

Pamela Herd, Donald P. Moynihan

Social Security’s success—both in terms of poverty reduction and political popularity—is in part a function of the program’s low levels of administrative burden. The program could not be successful if it could not get off the ground. Many experts believed the program was impossible to administer effectively. The rapid speed—and high level of success—of the initial administrative structures that were put in place after the initial 1935 legislation paved the way for the 1939 amendments, which in turn were critical to ensuring the program’s long-term viability by dramatically expanding the number of beneficiaries.

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