The History of Social Security Changes from Inception to Present Time
How did Social Security get its start? Will it still be around in 10-20 years? Were disability benefits in the original program? How have Social Security taxes increased over time?
Understanding Social Security
Click on the graphic or this link: Social Security: The History to learn about Social Security changes over the past 8 decades. This visual timeline gives a play-by-play account of the birth, development and evolution of the Social Security system, from its beginning to the present day.
As the pictorial history shows, the Social Security program must endure continuous examination, change and refinement in order to be administered fairly and responsibly.
Many major changes to the program have occurred over the past 75 years. Today our attention is focused on restoring and preserving the financial soundness of the system.
Highlights of Social Security Changes
- In 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. Social Security benefits began as Federal old-age benefit payments for workers and their families, in the form of lump-sum payments.
- The first official payment was made in 1937, to Ernest Ackerman for 17 cents.
- In 1940, benefit payments began to be paid out on a monthly basis.
- In 1956, the Social Security Act was amended to provide monthly benefits to disabled workers through Social Security Disability Insurance.
- In 1965, Medicare and Medicaid were added to the Social Security program as federal health insurance for the elderly and poor families.
- In 1972, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program was started for the needy aged, blind and disabled.
- Hand in hand with these social security changes have been steady increases to Social Security taxes. 2010 was the first year since its reform in 1983 that Social Security will pay out more than it gets in payroll taxes.
Social Security – Then and Now
Times have fundamentally changed since 1935. The Social Security Act, as originally written, had its imperfections. As improvements were made − such as allowing for cost of living adjustments (COLA) to offset inflation, and the passage of Medicare and Medicaid − the program has evolved into the form we know today.
Presently, Social Security’s financial woes continue to make the headlines, stressing the efforts that must be made in order to keep the program on a sound, long-term footing. Changes to the Social Security program are, in fact, never-ending, and will inevitably affect the rights and welfare of retired, needy and disabled persons.