Old Age Pension Records
Photo Credit: Idaho State Archives
The Old Age Pension Act of the State of Idaho was first introduced by the House of Representatives in 1929. It became official in the legislative session of February 12, 1931. The bill provided a monthly payment of up to $25 to qualified residents of Idaho. Every person residing in the state of Idaho, regardless of gender or marriage status, was entitled to receive the benefits of the Pension Act, provided that he or she met all the requirements established by the legislature. This act was created in response to the growing economic crises of the Great Depression, during which time the majority of elderly people in the United States were unable to support themselves. Acts providing for the elderly were direct precursors of the Social Security Act, which passed nationally on August 14, 1935, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As the Social Security system became fully functional in the following years, state-funded old age pensions were eliminated.
Recipients of the Old Age Pension in Idaho were required to be over 65 years of age, a county resident for the three years immediately prior to the date of application, and a resident of the state for fifteen years, five of which had to be immediately preceding the application. Applicants who had previously be imprisoned or housed in an insane asylum had to meet additional requirements. Other restrictions included property ownership maximums of $300 and proof that no family members resided in the area that could provide care for the applicant.
Each county in the state was responsible for setting up a commission headed by an Idaho probate judge to manage the applications and subsequent payments provided by the bill. Applications could be renewed on a yearly basis. Cancellation or modification of benefits resulted if the recipient's financial situation changed while receiving payment. Providing false information on the application, which was classified as a misdemeanor, could result in up to a $300 fine and/or up to six months imprisonment. The state was obliged to provide up to $100 for funeral costs upon the death of a recipient.
The Idaho State Archives holds original hard-copy of over 1,400 applications from Ada, Kootenai, Twin Falls, Jerome, Clearwater, Bannock, Boundary, and Teton counties, ranging from 1931 to 1936. These records provide the applicant's first and last name, date and place of birth, nationality, occupation and residence at time of application, total property holdings, and previous yearly income. In addition, many records provide the names, residences, occupations, and estimated yearly incomes of the applicant's relatives, including siblings and children. For more information contact (208) 334-2620 or e-mail.
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