Edwin E. Witte/Debate Guide

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Who was "The 'Father' of Social Security?"

Witte has long been credited as the "Father of Social Security," but Witte himself denied this claim. He believed that he deserved "this title less than many others." Witte pointed out that the Social Security Act was a collaborative undertaking:

Social Security, like most other major social advances, has been the product of the endeavors and work of many people over a long period of time. The contributions made by any one person have been so commingled with those of many others that the end-product cannot be attributed to any individual or group of individuals.[1]

Then, also, Arthur J. Altmeyer is often referred to as the "Father of Social Security." See the remarks of Congressman Robert Kastenmeier (D-WI) on the death of Altmeyer.[2]

The son of Abraham Epstein has called his father the "Forgotten Father of Social Security" in a recent book.[3]


  1. Edwin E. Witte, "Reflections on The Beginnings of Social Security," Remarks delivered at observance cf 20th Anniversary of Social Security Act by Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Washington, D.C., on August 15, 1955.
  2. Robert Kastenmeier, "Arthur J. Altmeyer, 'Father' of Social Security," Congressional Record-House, October 18, 1972, H10353-H10354.
  3. Pierre Epstein, Abraham Epstein: The Forgotten Father of Social Security (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2007).