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.
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.
The Prussian Plan was adopted, making Germany the first
nation to adopt a modern social insurance program.
Civil War Pensions were extended to elderly veterans.
1908 A workmen's compensation system
was established for civilian employees of the Federal
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.
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
June, 1913 The American Association for
Labor Legislation sponsored the First National Conference on
1915 The first old-age pension
legislation not challenged on the grounds of constitutionality
was enacted in Alaska.
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.
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
4/19/35 The Social
Security Act was passed in the House of Representatives, 372 to
6/19/35 The Social
Security Act was passed in the Senate by a vote of 77 to 6.
The Social Security Act became law with President
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.
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
Security Act Amendments established a program of aid to the
needy who are permanently and totally disabled.
Security Agency was abolished. Functions transferred to the
Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
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.
Dedication ceremony for the Social Security Administration's
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.
Security Amendments of 1972 signed into law by President Nixon.
Security Income went into operation as a result of the
Social Security Amendments of 1972.
reorganization was announced, transferring Medicare to the new
Health Care Financing Administration.
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
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
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
3/31/95 SSA became an independent
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