For baby boomers, Social Security retirement benefits are still an important part of our financial portfolio.
There isn't enough time for our generation to make up for the income that would be lost if Social Security benefits were reduced significantly right now.
The Social Security program has evolved throughout history from a need to provide for workers in their old age rather than fall into poverty when they can no longer work.
This duty of our society and government will not be eliminated, but it will continue to evolve with society's needs.
For Federal Employees who are not eligible for SS benefits, see this page on the Civil Service Retirement System.
The Social Security Act was signed into law by President Roosevelt on August 14, 1935.
The first application forms were distributed in November 1936. The registration forms were handled and numbers were assigned in the local post offices at that time.
The post offices collected the completed forms and turned them over to SSA offices near major post office centers. They were next forwarded to Baltimore, Maryland, where SS numbers and employment records were registered.
John Sweeney received the first SSN account, but he didn’t get the lowest number issued. Grace Dorothy Owen received number 001-01-0001.
(Note: The photo below is not one of the people mentioned, but she is a woman from the period, circa 1927)
More than 30 million SSN cards were issued through the US Postal Service. By June 30, 1937, 151 field offices were opened, the first being in Austin Texas on Oct 14 1936. From then on, the SS Board's local offices took over the task of administering Social Security numbers and accounts.
On January 31, 1940, the first monthly check for $22.54 was issued to Ida May Fuller of Vermont. Miss Fuller was a Legal Secretary who retired in November 1939. She started collecting benefits at age 65 and she lived until 1975 when she was 100 years old.
In 1956, the Social Security Act was expanded to provide benefits to the disabled workers between 50-64 and disabled adult children.
In September 1960 the law was amended for the disability rules to permit payment of benefits to disabled workers of any age and to their dependents.
In 1965, the SSA became responsible for administering a new program, Medicare that extended health coverage to everyone age 65 and older.
In the 1970’s, provisions for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) were added to the assist the elderly poor.
For more on the history and events that led to the creation of our Social Security Retirement system, visit the SSA website at ssa.gov/history or socialsecurity.gov/history.