Social Services are the nongovernmental services that federal, state, and local governments provide. These services generally include healthcare, public housing programs, and welfare / social security. They can also be called government, public, or public service programs.

The United States has some of the best social services in the world, though the U.S. hasn't always been so generous with its medical coverage. In America's infancy, sailors and soldiers received pensions, while other programs focused on homeless, orphaned children, and disabled individuals (but the range was still limited). Then, with the Great Depression came the New Deal, which greatly expanded funding for the social safety net. However, many programs were underfunded or disconnected, leaving significant gaps in coverage.

The 20th century saw extensive social welfare programs adopted by governments. This trend began as a reaction to the new social conditions of the early century. By the 1920s, numerous social program initiatives were undertaken, including retirement, pension, welfare, and other insurance programs. These programs continued to develop over the next few decades. They culminated with the major social welfare programs in the 1930-the 40s, many of which were founded in response to the Great Depression.