President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into law – August 14, 1936. (Among those at the signing - Frances Perkins, appointed Secretary of Labor in 1933, making her the first woman to hold a cabinet-level position; Senator Robert LaFollette, a progressive Senator from Wisconsin; and Senator Robert Wagner, former Mayor of New York City who introduced the bill.)
On this day – August 14, 1935 – President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act- thus creating one of the most significant government programs in American history. Upon signing the bill, he stated, “We can never insure 100 percent of the population against 100 percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-stricken old age.” According to the U.S. Social Security Administration the act provided “a wide range of programs to meet the nation’s needs… In addition to the program we now think of as Social Security, it included unemployment insurance, old-age assistance, aid to dependent children and grants to the states to provide various forms of medical care.”
A bit of Social Security trivia:
*The first Social Security record was assigned to a 23-year-old New York man, John David Sweeney, Jr.. Ironically, Sweeney died in 1974 at the age of 61 without ever receiving any Social Security benefits. Sweeney’s widow, however, did receive benefits until she died eight years later.
*The first person to receive monthly benefits was Ida May Fuller from Vermont, who retired in November 1939 and started collecting benefits in January 1940 at age 65. Her first benefit check was for $22.54 and she went on collecting benefits for 35 years, until 1975, when she died at age 100. In this time she collected a total of $22,888.92.
*Concord, New Hampshire, resident Grace D. Owen was issued the first card typed in Concord, which because of the numbering scheme happened to be the card with the lowest possible number — 001-01-0001.