SS Milestones
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1789 The Federal Government accepted the responsibility of providing pensions to disabled veterans of the Revolutionary War.

1795 Thomas Paine published his Agrarian Justice, in which he proposed a social insurance program for the young nation.


1862 Civil War pensions were first paid to disabled veterans.

1875 The first private pension plan in American industry was adopted by American Express. It provided benefits for employees 60 years of age or over who had 20 years service with the company and were incapacitated.

1881 German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck put forward his Prussian Plan for social insurance for German workers.

1889 The Prussian Plan was adopted, making Germany the first nation to adopt a modern social insurance program.


1906 Civil War Pensions were extended to elderly veterans.

1908 A workmen's compensation system was established for civilian employees of the Federal Government.

1908 Non-contributory pensions were instituted in Great Britain by the Old-Age Pensions Act.

1909 The first Federal old-age pension bill was introduced in Congress.


1911 The first workmen's compensation law to be held constitutional was enacted in Wisconsin.

1911 The first contributory system of pensions covering all State employees was established in Massachusetts.

1912 The Progressive Party platform called for the protection of home life against the hazards of sickness, irregular employment and old-age through the adoption of a system of social insurance adapted to American use. Former President Theodore Roosevelt was the party's nominee.

June, 1913 The American Association for Labor Legislation sponsored the First National Conference on Social Insurance.

1915 The first old-age pension legislation not challenged on the grounds of constitutionality was enacted in Alaska.


1920 A Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund was established for Federal employees.

1923 Montana's Old-Age Pension Law was enacted. It was the first such State law to withstand the test of constitutionality.


6/8/34 Federal legislation to promote economic security was recommended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

1/17/35 The Committee on Economic Security's recommendations were introduced in the 74th Congress.

4/19/35 The Social Security Act was passed in the House of Representatives, 372 to 33.

6/19/35 The Social Security Act was passed in the Senate by a vote of 77 to 6.

8/14/35 The Social Security Act became law with President Roosevelt's signature.

1/1/37 Workers began to acquire credits toward old-age insurance benefits.

3/11/37 First Social Security benefits paid (one-time payment only).

8/10/39 The Social Security Amendments of 1939 broadened the program to include dependents' and survivors' benefits.


1/1/40 Monthly benefits first became payable under old-age and survivors insurance to aged retired workers and their dependents and to survivors of deceased insured workers.

1/31/40 Ida May Fuller became the first person to receive an old-age monthly benefit check under the new Social Security Law.

11/19/45 In a special message to Congress, President Harry S. Truman proposed a comprehensive, prepaid medical insurance plan for all people through the Social Security system.

7/16/46 Reorganization Plan of 1946:Social Security Board was abolished. Replaced with the Social Security Administration.


8/28/50 Social Security Act Amendments established a program of aid to the needy who are permanently and totally disabled.

4/11/53 Federal Security Agency was abolished. Functions transferred to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

9/1/54 Social Security Amendments established a disability "freeze" to help prevent the erosion of a disabled worker's benefits.

8/1/56 The Social Security Act was amended to provide monthly benefits to permanently and totally disabled workers aged 50-64 and for adult children of deceased or retired workers, if disabled before age 18.


7/1/60 Dedication ceremony for the Social Security Administration's Woodlawn headquarters.

6/30/61 The Social Security Amendments of 1961 were signed by President John Kennedy, permitting all workers to elect reduced retirement at age 62.

7/30/65 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare Bill in the presence of former President Truman who proposed this legislation in his message to Congress in 1945.


10/30/72 Social Security Amendments of 1972 signed into law by President Nixon.

1/1/74 Supplemental Security Income went into operation as a result of the Social Security Amendments of 1972.

3/9/77 HEW reorganization was announced, transferring Medicare to the new Health Care Financing Administration.


5/4/80 HEW became the Department of Health and Human Services.

6/9/80 President Carter signed the Social Security Amendments of 1980. Major provisions involved greater work incentives for disabled Social Security and SSI beneficiaries.

10/80 Public Law 96-473 terminated benefits to prisoners.

8/13/81 The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 made major changes in Social Security, SSI and AFDC. These included: a phasing out of student's benefits; stopping young parents benefits; stopping young parents benefits when a child reached 16; limiting the lump-sum death payment and changes in the minimum benefit.

1/20/83 The National Commission on Social Security Reform sent its recommendations for resolving the Social Security program's financial problems to the President and Congress.

4/20/83 President Reagan signed into law the Social Security Amendments of 1983.

10/9/84 Disability Benefits Reform Act of 1984 signed.

8/14/85 Social Security celebrates its 50th Anniversary.


8/5/94 Independent Agency legislation passed unanimously in the Senate.

8/11/94 Independent Agency legislation passed unanimously in the House.

8/15/94 President Bill Clinton signed legislation to make SSA an Independent Agency.

10/31/94 The bipartisan commission on the "notch" issued its report. "The central finding of the Commission is that benefits paid to those in the 'Notch' years are equitable, and no remedial legislation is in order."

3/31/95 SSA became an independent agency.

3/29/96 President Clinton signed the Contract With America Advancement Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-121) which ends eligibility to disability benefits for drug addicts and alcoholics.

8/22/96 President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. This "welfare reform" legislation, terminated SSI eligibility for most non-citizens and make it more difficult for children to qualify as disabled for SSI purposes. It also ended the federal entitlement to Aid to Families with Dependent Children, that was part of the original 1935 Social Security Act.

1/6/97 The 1994-1996 Social Security Advisory Council released its report. Unable to achieve consensus, the Council offered three options: a Maintain Benefits plan; an Individual Accounts plan; and a Personal Savings Account plan.

8/5/97 President Clinton signed H.R. 2015, The Balanced Budget Act of 1997, into law. This law restores SSI eligibility to certain cohorts of non- citizens whose eligibility otherwise would be terminated under the "welfare reform" of 1996.

1/27/98 In his State of the Union address President Clinton emphasized the central task of addressing the solvency of the Social Security program. Any budget surplus should not be used in any way until we "Save Social Security First."

12/8-9/98 The first-ever White House Conference on Social Security was held in Washington, D.C.

3/30/99 The Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds released their 1999 Annual Report. The Report shows continued improvement in the Social Security Trust Funds, with the date of exhaustion lengthening from 2032 to 2034.

10/1/99 SSA began mailing the first batch of what will be 125 million redesigned Social Security Statements. This is thought to be the largest mass-mailing ever undertaken by the federal government. SSA is required by law to mail an annual statement to all workers age 25 and older. The Statements (formally known as PEBES) first became available on a by-request basis in 1988 and 37 million statements were issued on that basis and another 70 million were sent by SSA to workers age 40 and older.

12/17/99 President Clinton signed the "Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999"--one of the most significant changes in disability policy in the last 20 years.

3/30/00 The Board of Trustees reported that the Social Security trust funds will remain solvent until 2037 (a gain of 3 years).

4/7/00 President Clinton signed into law a bill eliminating the Retirement Earnings Test (RET) for those above Retirement Age.
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