A Hope of Many Years


>>Intro:
WELCOME TO THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION'S HEADQUARTERS IN WOODLAWN, MARYLAND. THIS HEADQUARTERS IS THE BRAIN CENTER FOR ALL OF SOCIAL SECURITY'S OPERATIONS, DIRECTING A NATIONWIDE NETWORK OF FIELD OFFICES WHICH SERVICE MILLIONS OF AMERICANS. JOIN ME, RICHARD GABRYSZEWSKI, HISTORIAN FOR SSA, AS WE DELVE INTO THE HISTORY OF THIS AGENCY AND BEYOND.

>>Title Sequence:
[ MUSIC PLAYING ]

>>Ancient Social Insurance:
LET'S STEP BACK A FEW THOUSAND YEARS AND TAKE A LOOK AT ANCIENT SOCIAL INSURANCE. WHAT HAPPENS DURING ECONOMIC TURMOIL? HOW DID THE ANCIENT WORLD DEAL WITH THEIR POOR AND ELDERLY? THE PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH GROWING OLD OR BECOMING DISABLED HAVE PLAGUED HUMANITY SINCE OUR EARLIEST DAYS ON THIS PLANET. IN ANCIENT ATHENS, THE CITY PROVIDED ALMS IN THE WAY OF A FEW CENTS GIVEN TO THOSE WHO WERE DISABLED, ELDERLY, OR OWNED PROPERTY LESS THAN A CERTAIN WORTH. THE GREEKS ALSO STOCKPILED OLIVE OIL FOR TIMES OF ECONOMIC HARDSHIP. THE CITY OF CLAZOMENAE ON THE IONIAN COAST, IS CONSIDERED AN ECONOMIC PIONEER IN THIS REGARD. IN ARISTOTLE'S "ECONOMIES," HE RECOUNTS, "THE PEOPLE OF CLAZOMENAE, SUFFERING FROM DEARTH OF GRAIN AND SCARCITY OF FUNDS, PASSED A RESOLUTION THAT ANY PRIVATE CITIZENS WHO HAD STORES OF OIL SHOULD LEND IT TO THE STATE AT INTEREST, THIS BEING A PRODUCE WHICH THEIR LAND BEARS IN ABUNDANCE." THE LOAN ARRANGED, THEY HIRED VESSELS AND SENT THEM TO THE DEPOTS, WHENCE THEY OBTAINED THEIR GRAIN, AND BOUGHT A CONSIGNMENT ON THE SECURITY OF THE VALUE OF THE OIL. IN ANCIENT ROME, THE ROMAN GOVERNMENT USED CORN AS A WAY TO TAKE CARE OF ITS CITIZENS. IN THE YEAR 123 B.C., GAIUS SEMPRONIUS GRACCHUS INTRODUCED THE FIRST LEX FRUMENTARIA. THIS LAW ESTABLISHED SUPPLYING THE POOR CITIZENS OF ROME WITH CORN, EACH MONTH, AND AT A CERTAIN AMOUNT, BELOW THE NORMAL MARKET PRICE. AFTER THE FALL OF ROME IN THE WEST, AND AS FEUDALISM GAVE WAY TO GROWING TOWNS AND CITIES WITH SPECIALIZED CRAFTSMEN, THERE AROSE ORGANIZATIONS THAT SOUGHT TO PROTECT THE ECONOMIC SECURITY OF ITS MEMBERS. IN EUROPE, THE EARLIEST OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS WERE GUILDS, FORMED DURING THE MIDDLE AGES BY MERCHANTS OR CRAFTSMEN. INDIVIDUALS WHO HAD A COMMON TRADE OR BUSINESS BANDED TOGETHER INTO MUTUAL AID SOCIETIES OR GUILDS. THESE GUILDS REGULATED PRODUCTION AND EMPLOYMENT, AND THEY ALSO PROVIDED A RANGE OF BENEFITS TO THEIR MEMBERS, INCLUDING FINANCIAL HELP IN TIMES OF POVERTY OR ILLNESS. OUT OF THE TRADITION OF THE GUILDS EMERGED THE FRIENDLY SOCIETIES. THESE ORGANIZATIONS BEGAN APPEARING IN ENGLAND IN THE 16TH CENTURY. AGAIN, ORGANIZED AROUND A COMMON TRADE OR BUSINESS, THE FRIENDLY SOCIETIES WOULD EVOLVE INTO WHAT WE NOW CALL FRATERNAL ORGANIZATIONS. BUT WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH MODERN SOCIAL INSURANCE? WELL, IF WE FAST FORWARD TO THE MODERN BUSTLING AGE OF THE 17TH CENTURY, WE FIND SOME OF THE FOUNDATIONS OF WHAT WOULD BECOME OUR MODERN SOCIAL SECURITY. THE ORIGINS LAY IN THE POOR LAWS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND, CULMINATING IN THE ELIZABETHAN POOR LAW OF 1601. THIS ISN'T A NEW LAW, BUT RATHER A CODIFICATION OF THE PREVIOUS LAWS FROM KING EDWARD III IN THE 1300S, UP TO THE 1590S. UNDER THIS LAW, THE IMPOTENT POOR, THOSE WHO WERE TOO OLD OR TOO YOUNG TO WORK, WERE SENT TO ALMSHOUSES TO BE CARED FOR, WHILE THE ABLE-BODIED POOR WERE SENT TO WORKHOUSES, WHERE THEY WOULD WORK TO EARN THEIR KEEP. NOW THE VAGRANTS, THEY WERE SENT TO PRISON.

>>Colonial America:
IT WAS THIS IDEA OF HOW TO PROVIDE FOR THE POOR THAT THE EARLY COLONISTS BROUGHT WITH THEM TO THE NEW WORLD. IN THE COLONIES, POOR RELIEF WAS ON A LOCAL LEVEL, AND BASED ON CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS. ONE EXAMPLE WAS IN MARYLAND, WHERE IN 1650 THERE WAS A LAW PASSED FOR THE RELIEF OF THE POOR BASED ON TAXES COLLECTED. AND IN 1768, A MORE ROBUST LAW WAS PASSED IN MARYLAND THAT REQUIRED ALMSHOUSES AND WORKHOUSES TO BE ABOUT BUILT TO ADDRESS THE GROWING POOR. THESE ALMSHOUSES WERE THE HOME FOR ORPHANS, THE DISABLED, AND THE ELDERLY. APPOINTED MAGISTRATES HAD THE POWER TO ROUND UP VAGRANTS, BEGGARS AND THE IDLE WITHIN THEIR COUNTY AND PLACE THEM IN TO WORKHOUSES FOR NO MORE THAN THREE MONTHS. OVER THE 19TH CENTURY, THE NATURE OF THE ALMSHOUSE CHANGED, BUT ALMSHOUSES STILL SERVED AS A MAJOR SOURCE OF POOR RELIEF IN AMERICA UNTIL THE CREATION OF SOCIAL SECURITY. [ DRUMMING AND FLUTE ] AND THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN A VERY SHORT TIME, HAD THE GOVERNMENT LISTENED MORE CAREFULLY TO WHAT THOMAS PAINE HAD TO SAY. A FOUNDING FATHER OF AMERICA, THOMAS PAINE WROTE MANY PAMPHLETS, INCLUDING "COMMON SENSE, " WHICH ADVOCATED THE INDEPENDENCE OF AMERICA. HE ALSO WROTE A PAMPHLET IN 1797 CALLED, "AGRARIAN JUSTICE," WHERE HE CALLED FOR A FORM OF SOCIAL INSURANCE TO BE CREATED FOR THE NEWLY INDEPENDENT COUNTRY. UNFORTUNATELY, THIS WOULD NOT BE THE CASE. IT WOULD BE 138 YEARS BEFORE A PROGRAM LIKE THOMAS PAINE SUGGESTED WOULD BE CREATED IN AMERICA.

>>Civil War Pensions:
[ MUSIC PLAYING ] WITH THE OUTBREAK OF CIVIL WAR IN 1861, THE UNITED STATES STARTED ON A PATH TO THE NATION'S LARGEST PENSION PROGRAM: THE CIVIL WAR PENSION PLAN. STARTED IN JULY OF 1862, THE PENSION PLAN SERVED AS A MEANS TO ENTICE RECRUITS, EVEN THOUGH THE PLAN INITIALLY ONLY PROVIDED DISABILITY BENEFITS TO VETERANS WOUNDED IN COMBAT. OVER THE YEARS, IT WAS EXPANDED TO INCLUDE ALL UNION VETERANS, THEN EXPANDED TO INCLUDE SURVIVOR'S BENEFITS FOR WIDOWS AND DEPENDENTS OF VETERANS. NOT ALL CLAIMS WERE GRANTED, AND SPECIAL CLAIMS AND BENEFITS ATTORNEYS WERE QUICK TO OFFER THEIR SERVICES TO HELP VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES SECURE BENEFITS. BY THE 1880s, THE PROGRAM CONSUMED 37 PERCENT OF THE ENTIRE FEDERAL BUDGET. BECAUSE SO MUCH MONEY WAS BEING PAID TO SO RELATIVELY FEW INDIVIDUALS, THERE AROSE MANY OPPONENTS TO THE PROGRAM. NEVERTHELESS, THE PROGRAM LASTED, PAYING BENEFITS TO THE LAST SURVIVING BENEFICIARY UNTIL 2003. YOU MAY ASK YOURSELF, HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? WHO WAS THE LAST CIVIL WAR PENSION BENEFICIARY? HER NAME WAS GERTRUDE JANEWAY. SHE MARRIED UNION VETERAN JOHN JANEWAY, AN OFFICER IN THE 14TH ILLINOIS CAVALRY, IN 1927, WHEN SHE WAS 18 AND HE 81. THEY LIVED TOGETHER IN A LOG CABIN IN TENNESSEE UNTIL JOHN JANEWAY'S DEATH IN 1937. GERTRUDE CONTINUED TO LIVE IN THE CABIN FOR NEARLY 70 YEARS AFTER HER HUSBAND'S DEATH. SHE RECEIVED A $70 PENSION CHECK FOR VETERANS' BENEFITS FROM THE GOVERNMENT EVERY TWO MONTHS UNTIL HER DEATH IN 2003. PRIVATE PENSIONS WERE ALSO PIONEERED IN THE LATE 1800s, THE FIRST PRIVATE COMPANY PENSION PLAN BEING CREATED BY THE AMERICAN EXPRESS COMPANY ON NOVEMBER 16TH, 1875. AMERICAN EXPRESS, A MAJOR EAST COAST EXPRESS DELIVERY SERVICE AT THE TIME, FORMED ITS PENSION PLAN AS A WAY TO TAKE CARE OF ITS EMPLOYEES INJURED OR WORN OUT IN THE LINE OF SERVICE. THE BALTIMORE AND OHIO RAILROAD FOLLOWED SUIT SHORTLY AFTER IN 1884 WITH ITS OWN PENSION PLAN.

>>German Social Insurance:
THE NEXT MAJOR STEP TOWARDS A FORM OF SOCIAL INSURANCE DID NOT COME FROM AMERICA. IT CAME FROM GERMANY. IN 1889, OTTO VON BISMARCK, REICH CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY, CREATED THE WORLD'S FIRST OLD-AGE SOCIAL INSURANCE PROGRAM. IT WOULD BE THE FIRST TRULY MODERN SYSTEM OF A GOVERNMENT-RUN PENSION PROGRAM. THE GERMAN RETIREMENT AGE WAS INITIALLY SET AT 70 YEARS OLD, AND LOWERED TO 65 IN 1916. THE SYSTEM WAS SO SUCCESSFUL THAT THE IDEA INSPIRED MANY EUROPEAN COUNTRIES TO IMPLEMENT THEIR OWN SOCIAL INSURANCE PROGRAMS. BY THE TIME THE U.S. PROGRAM BECAME LAW IN 1935, OVER 20 COUNTRIES IN EUROPE HAD ADOPTED A SOCIAL INSURANCE PROGRAM.

>>20th Century:
THIS DID NOT GO UNNOTICED IN THE UNITED STATES, AND THERE WERE MANY CHANGES HAPPENING IN THE NATURE OF LABOR. WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION LAWS WERE TRYING TO FIND A FOOTHOLD IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY, MANY OF THEM BEING DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL, DUE TO THE VIEW OF THE CONTRACT FOR WORK BEING BETWEEN THE EMPLOYER AND EMPLOYEE, AND NOT THE STATE. IN 1911, WISCONSIN PASSED THE FIRST WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION LAW TO BE DECLARED CONSTITUTIONAL. THE VERY NEXT YEAR, TEDDY ROOSEVELT AND HIS PROGRESSIVE PARTY CAMPAIGNED FOR A NATIONAL OLD-AGE PENSION SYSTEM THAT ALSO COVERED SICKNESS AND UNEMPLOYMENT. A NATIONAL PLAN WAS NOT ADOPTED, BUT THE STATES WERE INDIVIDUALLY TRYING TO PASS OLD-AGE PENSION PLANS. THE FIRST WAS ARIZONA, IN 1914, WHICH CALLED FOR THE ABOLISHMENT OF THE ALMSHOUSES. IT WAS, HOWEVER, DEFEATED IN THE COURTS. IT WASN'T UNTIL 1923 WHEN MONTANA WAS ABLE TO PASS AN OLD-AGE PENSION LAW THAT WASN'T DEFEATED ON THE GROUNDS OF CONSTITUTIONALITY. AND BY 1929, ALL BUT FOUR STATES HAD WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION LAWS IN EFFECT. SOMETHING ELSE HAPPENED IN 1929 AS WELL. ON OCTOBER 24TH, THE STOCK MARKET CRASHED, AND AMERICA ENTERED THE GREAT DEPRESSION. THIS ECONOMIC TURMOIL WOULD LAST ROUGHLY A DECADE. THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE SHOT UP TO 25 PERCENT, AND OVER 10,000 BANKS FAILED. THE MAJORITY OF THE ELDERLY LIVED IN DEPENDENCY, AND MANY FARMERS WERE FORCED TO RELOCATE AND TRY TO FIND NEW FORMS OF WORK. AS A RESULT, THE GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT PLUMMETED. THESE UNPRECEDENTED CIRCUMSTANCES LED TO MANY CALLS FOR CHANGE.

>>The Radical Movement:
DURING THE EARLY 1930s, THERE AROSE A NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO PASSIONATELY ADVOCATED FOR A NATIONAL PENSION PLAN AND NEW LAWS TO HELP REJUVENATE THE ECONOMY. THESE PLANS AND THEIR DESIGNERS WERE OFTEN AT ODDS WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, BUT WERE ULTIMATELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FORMATION OF A FEDERAL SYSTEM OF SOCIAL INSURANCE. THE MOST VOCAL AND PREEMINENT WERE SENATOR HUEY LONG AND DR. FRANCIS TOWNSEND. NICKNAMED THE KINGFISH, HUEY LONG SERVED AS THE 40TH GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA FROM 1928 TO 1932, AND U.S. SENATOR FROM 1932 TO 1935. IN FEBRUARY, 1934, LONG INTRODUCED HIS SHARE OUR WEALTH PLAN OVER A NATIONWIDE RADIO BROADCAST. HE PROPOSED CAPPING PERSONAL FORTUNES AT $50 MILLION, AND MADE A CALL TO LIMIT ANNUAL INCOME TO ONE MILLION. THE RESULTING FUNDS WOULD BE USED TO GUARANTEE EVERY FAMILY A BASIC HOUSEHOLD GRANT OF $5,000, AND A MINIMUM ANNUAL INCOME OF TWO TO $3,000, OR ONE-THIRD OF THE AVERAGE FAMILY HOMESTEAD VALUE AND INCOME.
>> WE START FROM THE BOTTOM, THAT THE 25 OR MORE MILLION AMERICAN FAMILIES SHALL HAVE A HOMESTEAD, A HOME, AND THE COMFORTS OF A HOME. INCLUDING AN AUTOMOBILE AND A RADIO, THE THINGS IT TAKES IN THAT HOUSE TO LIVE ON. WE SAY TO AMERICA, 125 MILLION, NONE SHALL BE TOO BIG, NONE SHOULD BE TOO POOR.
>> HUEY LONG'S OFFICE RECEIVED ON AVERAGE 60, 000 LETTERS A WEEK FROM SUPPORTERS OF THE SHARE OUR WEALTH PROGRAM. IT WAS SO POPULAR THAT HE EVEN WROTE AND SANG A THEME SONG ENTITLED, "EVERY MAN A KING."
>> EVERY MAN A KING. EVERY MAN A KING. FOR YOU CAN BE A MILLIONAIRE.
>> UNFORTUNATELY FOR LONG AND HIS SUPPORTERS, HUEY LONG WAS SHOT IN THE HALLWAY OF THE LOUISIANA STATE CAPITOL BUILDING IN BATON ROUGE IN SEPTEMBER OF 1935. HE WAS ATTEMPTING TO OUST LOUISIANA JUDGE BENJAMIN HENRY PAVY. LONG'S LAST WORDS WERE REPORTED TO BE, "GOD, DON'T LET ME DIE, I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO." THE LAST WAS DR. FRANCIS TOWNSEND. TOWNSEND WAS A DOCTOR FROM CALIFORNIA, WHO FOUND HIMSELF UNEMPLOYED DUE TO THE GREAT DEPRESSION. UNSATISFIED WITH HIS POSITION IN LIFE AND THE STATE OF THE ELDERLY IN AMERICA, HE BECAME THE SELF-PROCLAIMED CHAMPION FOR THE POOR IN 1933. TO THAT END, HE CREATED THE OLD-AGE REVOLVING PENSION PLAN, WHICH PROMISED TO PROVIDE $200 A MONTH TO EVERY CITIZEN ABOVE AGE 60, WITH THE STIPULATION THAT IT MUST BE SPENT WITHIN 30 DAYS. THIS WAS A PLAN TO INCREASE SPENDING AND CASH FLOW WITHIN THE ECONOMY. THESE PENSIONS WERE TO BE FUNDED BY A 2 PERCENT NATIONAL SALES TAX. HIS PLAN WAS IMMENSELY POPULAR, AND BY 1935, THERE WERE OVER 7,000 TOWNSEND CLUBS AROUND THE COUNTRY, WITH MORE THAN 2.2 MILLION MEMBERS. THE POPULARITY OF DR. TOWNSEND'S PLAN PUT PRESSURE ON THE ROOSEVELT ADMINISTRATION TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT SOCIAL INSURANCE IN AMERICA.

>>Economic Security:
IN 1934, PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT, BY EXECUTIVE ORDER, CREATED THE COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC SECURITY IN AN EFFORT TO TACKLE THE ISSUE OF SOCIAL INSURANCE. THE GOAL OF THIS GROUP WAS TO STUDY THE ENTIRE SCOPE OF ECONOMIC INSECURITY. THEY WOULD FORMULATE THEIR OWN RECOMMENDATIONS AND DRAFT A REPORT TO CONGRESS. THE COMMITTEE WAS COMPRISED OF FIVE CABINET-LEVEL OFFICIALS: SECRETARY OF LABOR FRANCES PERKINS, WHO WAS ALSO THE CHAIRPERSON; SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY HENRY MORGENTHAU, JR.; ATTORNEY GENERAL HOMER CUMMINGS; SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE HENRY WALLACE; AND FEDERAL EMERGENCY RELIEF ADMINISTRATOR HARRY HOPKINS. THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE COMMITTEE WAS UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN'S ECONOMICS PROFESSOR EDWIN WITTE. WITHIN SIX MONTHS, THE COMMITTEE COMPLETED THEIR REPORT AND DELIVERED IT TO THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS ON JANUARY, 1935, AT A TOTAL COST OF $145,000. FRANCES PERKINS WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN THE DRAFTING AND PASSAGE OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY LEGISLATION. BORN FANNIE CORALIE PERKINS ON APRIL 10TH, 1880 IN BOSTON, SHE SERVED AS SECRETARY OF LABOR FROM 1933 TO 1945, BECOMING THE FIRST WOMAN APPOINTED TO A U.S. CABINET POSITION. IN 1937, THROUGH THE FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT, SHE ESTABLISHED THE FIRST MINIMUM WAGE AND OVERTIME LAWS FOR AMERICAN WORKERS, AND DEFINED THE 40-HOUR WORKWEEK. SHE STARTED HER WORK FOR FDR WHEN HE WAS GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK. AFTER HIS DEATH IN 1945, SHE SERVED PRESIDENT TRUMAN ON THE U.S. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, BEFORE LEAVING GOVERNMENT SERVICE IN 1952. PERKINS REMAINED ACTIVE AS A TEACHER AND LECTURER UNTIL HER DEATH IN 1965.

>>Social Security Act:
AFTER MONTHS OF POLITICAL WRANGLING AND COMPROMISE, THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT WAS SIGNED IN TO LAW ON WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 14TH, 1935.
>> THIS SOCIAL SECURITY MEASURE GIVES AT LEAST SOME PROTECTION TO 50 MILLIONS OF OUR CITIZENS WHO WILL REAP DIRECT BENEFITS THROUGH UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION, THROUGH OLD-AGE PENSIONS, AND THROUGH INCREASED SERVICES FOR THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND THE PREVENTION OF ILL HEALTH.
>> THIS WOODEN PEN WAS ONE OF FIVE PENS FDR USED TO SIGN THE BILL. PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT EVENTUALLY GAVE THIS PEN TO THE FRATERNAL ORDER OF EAGLES FOR THEIR SUPPORT OF HIS SOCIAL LEGISLATION. THE WHITE HOUSE SIGNING CEREMONY INCLUDED MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND SECRETARY OF LABOR AND CES CHAIRPERSON FRANCES PERKINS. SHE WAS THE ONLY WOMAN PRESENT. TITLE II OF THE ACT PROVIDED BENEFITS TO RETIREES, THE UNEMPLOYED, AND A LUMP SUM BENEFIT AT DEATH. CITIZENSHIPS WHO RETIRED BEFORE IMPLEMENTATION WERE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS. BENEFITS TO COVER RETIREES WERE FINANCED BY A TWO PERCENT PAYROLL TAX ON CURRENT WORKERS' WAGES.

>>Social Security Board:
NOW THERE WAS THIS THING CALLED SOCIAL SECURITY, BUT HOW WOULD IT WORK? WHO WOULD RUN IT? THE FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS WAS TO ESTABLISH A GOVERNING BODY THAT WOULD ADMINISTER THIS NEW PROGRAM. ONE MONTH AFTER THE SIGNING OF THE BILL, PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT APPOINTED THE THREE MEMBERS OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD: CHAIRPERSON JOHN WINANT, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW HAMPSHIRE; ARTHUR J. ALTMEYER, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF LABOR; AND VINCENT MILES, DEMOCRATIC PARTY OFFICIAL. THE SSB WAS THE NAME OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE BOARD AS WELL AS THE AGENCY. IN THOSE EARLY MONTHS, FROM THE FALL OF 1935 TO THE END OF 1936, THE MISSION OF THE BOARD WAS TO DEVELOP POLICIES AND PROCEDURES, SECURE BUILDING SPACE, HIRE AND TRAIN EMPLOYEES, AND ENROLL 30 MILLION PLUS AMERICANS INTO THE NEW SYSTEM. THAT'S A FANTASTIC AMOUNT OF WORK, ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THEY ONLY HAD A YEAR AND A HALF TO DO IT IN. BY JANUARY 1ST, 1937, SOCIAL SECURITY PAYROLL TAXES WERE SLATED TO BEGIN, OFFICIALLY MARKING THE START OF SOCIAL SECURITY. THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PIONEER DURING THESE EARLY YEARS WAS ARTHUR J. ALTMEYER. KNOWN AS MR. SOCIAL SECURITY, ALTMEYER WAS A NATIVE OF WISCONSIN, AND THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF LABOR UNDER SECRETARY FRANCIS PERKINS.
>> THE MEN AND WOMEN COVERED BY THE PLAN WILL RECEIVE AN INCOME FOR LIFE AFTER AGE 65, WHEN THEY ARE NO LONGER AT WORK. THIS INCOME WILL BE PAID TO THEM BY THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT IN MONTHLY CHECKS.
>> IN 1937, HE BECAME CHAIRPERSON OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD, SERVING UNTIL 1946, WHEN THE SSB WAS REORGANIZED AND RENAMED THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION. AS A RESULT, ALTMEYER BECAME THE AGENCY'S FIRST COMMISSIONER, SERVING IN THAT CAPACITY UNTIL HIS RETIREMENT FROM GOVERNMENT SERVICE IN 1953.

>>Enumeration:
ONE OF THE LARGEST AND MOST DIFFICULT PROBLEMS THAT THE BOARD HAD TO TACKLE WAS HOW TO ENUMERATE THE COUNTRY. THE BOARD NEEDED SOME KIND OF UNIQUE IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION FROM EACH EMPLOYEE. THERE WAS ALREADY GREAT CONTROVERSY ON WHAT KIND OF NUMBERING SYSTEM WOULD BE USED. IN NOVEMBER OF 1935 -- THE BOARD HAD ADOPTED A NUMBER SYSTEM COMPOSED OF THREE ALPHABETICAL DIGITS AND FIVE NUMERICAL DIGITS. THIS CAUSED QUITE A STIR AMONGST THE OTHER AGENCIES, WHO WOULD BE AFFECTED BY THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SUCH A NUMBERING SYSTEM, AS NONE OF THE OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES USED TABULATION MACHINES WITH ALPHABETICAL SYMBOLS. THE DEBATE OVER HOW MANY DIGITS AND WHETHER THERE SHOULD BE ALPHABETICAL FIELDS CONTINUED UNTIL FEBRUARY 14TH, 1936, WHEN THE BOARD, TIRED OF THE CONFLICT OVER THE NUMBERING SYSTEM, ADOPTED A NEW NINE-NUMBER SYSTEM. IN THIS SYSTEM, THE FIRST THREE DIGITS REPRESENTED THE AREA, THE SECOND TWO DIGITS REPRESENTED THE MONTH OF BIRTH, AND THE LAST FOUR WERE THE SERIAL NUMBER. THIS NINE-DIGIT-NUMBER SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED AGAIN ON JUNE 2ND, 1936, DOING AWAY WITH THE TWO DIGITS REPRESENTING THE MONTH, AND BECOMING A GROUP NUMBER INSTEAD. OTHER IDEAS FOR ENUMERATION HAD BEEN SOLICITED TO SOCIAL SECURITY. THE ADDRESSOGRAPH COMPANY SENT ARTHUR ALTMEYER A METAL DOG TAG WITH HIS NAME AND NUMBER ON IT, SUGGESTING THAT EVERYONE COULD WEAR THEIR NUMBERS LIKE A MILITARY ID TAG. THERE WAS ALSO AN IDEA TO USE STAMPS AND STAMP BOOKS FOR EMPLOYEES TO KEEP RECORDS OF THEIR SOCIAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTIONS. NONE OF THESE IDEAS WERE ACCEPTED. THE NINE-DIGIT-NUMBER SYSTEM THAT THE BOARD HAD SETTLED ON WOULD BE PRINTED ON A CARD USING BANK NOTE PAPER. THE SSB COMMISSIONED NEW YORK FREELANCE ARTIST FRED HAPPEL TO DESIGN THE CARD. HE CREATED AND SUBMITTED THREE DIFFERENT DESIGNS, AND THE BOARD SELECTED ONE AS THE FIRST SOCIAL SECURITY CARD. FRED HAPPEL WAS PAID A ONE-TIME FEE OF $60 FOR HIS WORK.

>>Registration & Candler:
NOW THE BOARD HAD AN ENUMERATION AND CARD SYSTEM IN PLACE. THE NEXT TASK WAS TO ENROLL AND ENUMERATE OVER 30 MILLION AMERICANS BY JANUARY 1ST, 1937. THE BOARD WAS ILL-EQUIPPED TO HANDLE THIS MAMMOTH TASK. HOW DID THEY DO IT? THE ANSWER WAS, QUITE LITERALLY, IN THE MAIL. IN THE FALL OF 1936, WITH THREE MONTHS UNTIL PAYROLL TAXES COMMENCED, THE BOARD ENLISTED THE HELP OF THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE. THE USPS DISTRIBUTED AND COLLECTED THE SS-4 EMPLOYER AND SS-5 EMPLOYEE ENROLLMENT FORMS. THEY EVEN SET UP ENROLLMENT KIOSKS IN CERTAIN POST OFFICES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. ONCE THE FORMS WERE COMPLETED, THE USPS FORWARDED THE FORMS TO THE SSB'S NEWLY DESIGNATED OPERATIONAL HEADQUARTERS AT THE CANDLER BUILDING IN BALTIMORE. WAIT. THE CANDLER BUILDING? IN BALTIMORE? YES. THE SOCIAL SECURITY PROGRAM HAD ITS ADMINISTRATIVE HEADQUARTERS IN WASHINGTON, D.C., BUT IT NEEDED AN OPERATIONS HEADQUARTERS TO PROCESS AND STORE ALL OF THE DATA THEY WOULD BE RECEIVING. THERE WAS ONLY ONE PROBLEM. NO SUCH BUILDING THAT COULD HANDLE ALL THAT WEIGHT EXISTED IN WASHINGTON, D.C., SO THE AGENCY SCOURED THE EAST COAST AND FOUND THE CANDLER BUILDING IN BALTIMORE'S INNER HARBOR. BUILT IN 1912 BY AND FOR THE COCA-COLA COMPANY AS A BOTTLING WAREHOUSE, IT WAS NAMED AFTER COCA-COLA FOUNDER ASA CANDLER. THE WAREHOUSE SAT VACANT FOR YEARS, BUT NEW BUSINESSES WERE MOVING IN, AND SOCIAL SECURITY WAS ABLE TO RENT SEVERAL FLOORS FOR ITS OPERATIONS. SOCIAL SECURITY'S STAY AT CANDLER WAS MEANT TO BE TEMPORARY, WHILE A NEW BUILDING WAS BEING CONSTRUCTED IN WASHINGTON, D.C. NOW THAT A BUILDING HAD BEEN SELECTED, THE NEXT STEP WAS PROCESSING ALL OF THE EMPLOYEE WAGES AND ENUMERATING THE NATION. EVERYTHING WAS DONE BY HAND, AND TYPED OUT OR WRITTEN DOWN. IBM MACHINES, THE MOST MODERN SYSTEMS AVAILABLE, PROCESSED PUNCH CARDS TO TABULATE, CALCULATE, AND SORT THE NATION'S WAGE DATA. STORING THE DATA WAS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CHALLENGE. TO ACCURATELY RECORD EACH INDIVIDUAL WAGE EARNER'S RECORD, THE AGENCY USED THE SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER. THE NINE-DIGIT NUMBER WAS UNIQUE TO EACH PERSON, AND NEVER REUSED, TO REDUCE THE CHANCE OF MISIDENTIFICATION. THE NUMBER WAS A VITAL COMPONENT TO THE VISIBLE INDEX. WITH IT, THE AGENCY COULD QUICKLY LOOK UP ANYONE WITHIN TWO MINUTES INSIDE THE MASSIVE VISIBLE INDEX. THE VISIBLE INDEX, ALSO KNOWN AS THE NATIONAL EMPLOYEE INDEX FLEX-ALIGN FILE, WAS ONE-HALF OF THE EXPANSIVE RECORDKEEPING SYSTEM USED BY SOCIAL SECURITY FROM 1937 TO 1958. LISTED IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER, IT SERVED AS THE INDEX TO THE EARNINGS RECORDS OF ALL SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFICIARIES. BY 1958, THERE WERE 160 MILLION FLEX-ALIGN STRIPS IN EXISTENCE, WITH 7 MILLION NEW STRIPS ADDED EACH YEAR. ALL OF THE STRIPS WERE FILED BY HAND, AND SOME EXCEPTIONALLY FAST EMPLOYEES COULD FILE AS MANY AS 300 STRIPS AN HOUR. THE OTHER HALF OF THE SYSTEM WAS THE 13,000 VOLUME NUMERICAL REGISTER. THE REGISTER WAS A LIST OF EVERY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER ISSUED SINCE 1936, ARRANGED IN NUMERICAL ORDER.

>>First Payments:
SO FROM AUGUST 1935 TO DECEMBER OF 1936, THE AGENCY WORKED TIRELESSLY TO SET UP OPERATIONS. THE REASON WAS SIMPLE: ON JANUARY 1ST, 1937, SOCIAL SECURITY PAYROLL TAXES AND LUMP SUM PAYMENTS WENT INTO EFFECT. THE NATION WOULD OFFICIALLY START EARNING SOCIAL SECURITY. ONE OF THE FIRST LUMP SUM BENEFICIARIES WAS ERNEST ACKERMAN, A BUS DRIVER FROM TOLEDO, OHIO. HE WORKED UNDER SOCIAL SECURITY FOR A SINGLE DAY, AND A NICKEL WAS WITHHELD FROM HIS PAY AS PART OF THE NEW TAX. UPON HIS RETIRING, HE RECEIVED 17 CENTS LUMP SUM IN RETURN. THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT WAS CHALLENGED, AND IT WENT TO THE SUPREME COURT. IN 1937, THE SUPREME COURT RULED IN FAVOR OF SOCIAL SECURITY. THE FIRST SIGNIFICANT LEGISLATION AFTER THE SIGNING AND IMPLEMENTATION OF SOCIAL SECURITY WERE THE AMENDMENTS OF 1939. ONE OF THE MAJOR AND MOST IMPORTANT CHANGES WAS THE ADDING OF SURVIVOR'S BENEFITS, TO BE PAID TO THE FAMILY OF A DECEASED WORKER WHO WAS COVERED BY SOCIAL SECURITY. THERE WAS ALSO THE ADDITION OF DEPENDENTS' BENEFITS, PAYMENTS MADE TO THE SPOUSE AND MINOR CHILDREN OF A RETIRED WORKER. THE START DATE OF THE MONTHLY BENEFITS WAS ALSO ADVANCED FROM 1942 TO 1940, AT THE SAME TIME INCREASING THE BENEFITS AMOUNT. ON JANUARY 31ST, 1940, THE FIRST MONTHLY RETIREMENT CHECK WAS ISSUED TO IDA MAE FULLER OF LUDLOW, VERMONT, IN THE AMOUNT OF $22.54. MS. FULLER, A LEGAL SECRETARY, RETIRED IN NOVEMBER, 1939, AT THE AGE OF 65, AND LIVED TO BE 100 YEARS OLD, DYING IN 1975. IDA MAE FULLER WORKED FOR THREE YEARS UNDER THE SOCIAL SECURITY PROGRAM. WITH MONTHLY BENEFITS NOW UNDER WAY, THE AGENCY WAS EAGER TO MOVE INTO ITS NEW BUILDING BEING CONSTRUCTED IN WASHINGTON, D.C. WORLD EVENTS, HOWEVER, WOULD CHANGE THE FATE OF SOCIAL SECURITY'S LOCATION FOREVER. IN THE SPRING OF 1941, THE WAR DEPARTMENT, WITH THE AUTHORITY OF THE PRESIDENT, COMMANDEERED SOCIAL SECURITY'S BUILDING IN WASHINGTON, D.C. FOR AMERICA'S PREPARATIONS INTO WORLD WAR II. SOCIAL SECURITY WOULD STAY AT CANDLER BUILDING FOR 24 YEARS BEFORE MOVING TO WOODLAWN IN 1960.

>>World War II:
DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR, A NUMBER OF SOCIAL SECURITY EMPLOYEES JOINED THE COAST GUARD PORT SECURITY FORCE. THESE INDIVIDUALS, MANY OF THEM WORLD WAR I VETERANS, VOLUNTEERED THEIR TIME AFTER WORK AT THE CANDLER BUILDING TO HELP KEEP BALTIMORE'S PORT SAFE FROM ENEMY ACTIVITY. AFTER WORK, THE SECURITY FORCE WOULD MEET AT THE USF&G BUILDING TO RECEIVE THEIR ORDERS. WEARING COAST GUARD UNIFORMS, CARRYING LIGHTS, AND WITH THEIR ORDERS IN HAND, THEY WOULD PATROL THE DOCKS AND STAND ARMED GUARD ON SHIPS DOCKED AT BALTIMORE'S INNER HARBOR. THE THREAT OF ENEMY SABOTAGE WAS VERY REAL. ON JUNE 12TH, 1942, GERMAN SUBMARINE U701 PLACED 15 UNDERWATER MINES AT THE MOUTH OF THE CHESAPEAKE BAY. FOUR SHIPS WERE SEVERELY DAMAGED, AND TWO ADDITIONAL SHIPS WERE SUNK BY THE MINES. IN ADDITION TO THE SUCCESSFUL RAIDS OF U701, MANY OTHER GERMAN U-BOATS PATROLLED THE ATLANTIC COASTLINE, POSING A GREAT DANGER TO ALL U.S. SHIPPING LANES AND PORTS. TO COMBAT THE ACTIONS OF THE U-BOATS, A DEDICATED FORCE OF COASTAL OBSERVERS, BOTH MILITARY AND CIVILIAN, KEPT WATCH FOR THE PRESENCE OF ENEMY ACTIVITY. SOCIAL SECURITY WAS AGAIN RIGHT THERE, AIDING IN THE WAR EFFORT. THIS TIME, THROUGH A PROGRAM CALLED THE CIVILIAN WAR BENEFITS PROGRAM. ALL CIVILIAN PERSONNEL WHO WERE EMPLOYED BY THE GOVERNMENT TO PATROL THE COAST WERE COVERED UNDER THE CIVILIAN WAR BENEFITS PROGRAM. CLAIMANTS WHO WERE TOTALLY DISABLED, EITHER PERMANENTLY OR PARTIALLY, AS A RESULT OF ENEMY ACTION, WERE PAID DISABILITY AND MEDICAL BENEFITS. ONLY CIVILIAN DEFENSE WORKERS COULD QUALIFY FOR SUCH BENEFITS WITHOUT REFERENCE TO ENEMY ACTION. THE CIVILIAN WAR BENEFITS PROGRAM LASTED FROM 1942 UNTIL 1946, AND RECEIVED ABOUT 4,600 CLAIMS IN TOTAL, AMOUNTING TO $1,028,569 IN BENEFIT PAYMENTS. FROM 1942 TO 1943, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTERED THE SMOKES FOR SOLDIERS CAMPAIGN IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE R.J. REYNOLDS TOBACCO COMPANY. THE PROGRAM ALLOWED FOR SOCIAL SECURITY EMPLOYEES TO PURCHASE A CARTON OF CIGARETTES, 18 PACKS, FOR $1.50. THE CUSTOMER WOULD RETAIN TEN OF THE 18 PACKS, AND THE REMAINING EIGHT WOULD BE SENT TO THE WAR DEPARTMENT TO BE ISSUED FOR FREE TO U.S. TROOPS. MANY GI'S SENT LETTERS TO THE SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD, THANKING THEM FOR THE CIGARETTES THEY RECEIVED. IN 1944, SOCIAL SECURITY EMPLOYEES RAISED ENOUGH MONEY TO PURCHASE TWO NEW DODGE AMBULANCES AND TWO X-RAY GENERATORS FOR THE AMERICAN RED CROSS. THE AMBULANCES WERE IN MEMORY OF TWO SOCIAL SECURITY EMPLOYEES WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR COUNTRY WHILE FIGHTING OVERSEAS, CLARENCE J. FIGGINS AND GEORGE ILIOPOULOS. THE TWO DODGE AMBULANCES WERE ON DISPLAY IN FRONT OF CANDLER DURING THE PRESENTATION CEREMONY BETWEEN SOCIAL SECURITY AND THE MEDICAL CORPS OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT.

 >>1950s & 1960s:
>> IF YOUR WORK IS COVERED BY THE SOCIAL SECURITY LAW, YOU ARE BUILDING UP RIGHTS TO MONTHLY PAYMENTS FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY AT OLD AGE, PAYMENTS FOR YOUR FAMILY IN CASE OF YOUR DEATH AT ANY AGE, AND NOW UNDER A RECENT CHANGE IN THE LAW, PAYMENTS FOR YOU AT AGE 50 IF YOU BECOME TOO DISABLED TO WORK. SO IF YOU ARE DISABLED AND HAVEN'T CONTACTED YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE, CALL OR WRITE TODAY.
>> THE 1950s SAW THE NEXT WAVE OF LEGISLATIVE REFORM. ON AUGUST 1ST, 1956, THE SOCIAL SECURITY PROGRAM WAS AMENDED TO PROVIDE BENEFITS TO DISABLED WORKERS AGED 50 TO 64. IN SEPTEMBER OF 1960, PRESIDENT EISENHOWER SIGNED A LAW AMENDING THE DISABILITY RULES TO PERMIT PAYMENT OF BENEFITS TO DISABLED WORKERS OF ANY AGE AND TO THEIR DEPENDENTS. THE VISIBLE INDEX AND NUMERICAL REGISTER SERVED US WELL FOR 20 YEARS, BUT A MORE EFFICIENT SYSTEM WAS REQUIRED AS THE NUMBER OF RECORDS GREW. IN EARLY 1956, SSA INSTALLED ITS FIRST MODERN COMPUTER: THE IBM 705 MAINFRAME. IT WAS USED TO CALCULATE BENEFIT AMOUNTS ELECTRONICALLY.
>> THIS ELECTRONIC BRAIN KEEPS TRACK OF MILLIONS OF SOCIAL SECURITY RECORDS. HERE, WITH A MESSAGE ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY, IS THE HEAD OF THE GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT WHICH INCLUDES THE SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM, ARTHUR S. FLEMING, SECRETARY OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE.
>> ELECTRONIC COMPUTERS WORK WONDERS.
>> DATA INPUT WAS MAGNETIC TAPE, PUNCH CARD READER, OR THE OPERATOR'S CONSOLE. SSA PURCHASED THREE 705 SYSTEMS AT A COST OF $788,000 EACH. THEY WERE OPERATIONAL FOR ONLY 16 HOURS A DAY, DUE TO THE EXCESSIVE HEAT GENERATED BY THE 705'S VACUUM TUBES. EACH 705 COULD MAKE 1,746,000 DECISIONS A MINUTE. THE FLEX-ALIGN STRIPS WERE CONVERTED TO MICROFILM STARTING IN 1958, AND BY 1959, ALL 1.3 MILLION VISIBLE INDEX PANELS WERE MICROFILMED. THE 1960s BROUGHT SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO SOCIAL SECURITY.
>> BEHIND ME IS THE NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION NEAR BALTIMORE, MARYLAND.
>> THE BIGGEST CHANGE WAS IN ITS LOCATION. SINCE ITS INCEPTION, SOCIAL SECURITY HAD BEEN SPREAD ACROSS BUILDINGS IN BALTIMORE AND WASHINGTON. NOW, THERE WOULD BE A SINGLE BUILDING COMPLEX WHERE ALL OF THE HEADQUARTER ACTIVITIES OF SOCIAL SECURITY WOULD BE CENTERED. THAT PLACE WAS WOODLAWN, MARYLAND, A RURAL AREA OUTSIDE OF BALTIMORE. CONSTRUCTION OF THE NEW BUILDING BEGAN IN THE LATE 1950s, AND THE DOORS OPENED UP TO EMPLOYEES IN 1960. IT SPORTED MODERN OFFICE SPACES, DEDICATED COMPUTER ROOMS, AMPLE PARKING, AND, OF COURSE, THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE AGENCY'S CENTRAL OPERATIONS. THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE WAS THE PASSAGE OF MEDICARE ON JULY 30TH, 1965. THE SIGNING CEREMONY TOOK PLACE AT FORMER PRESIDENT HARRY S. TRUMAN'S PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY IN INDEPENDENCE, MISSOURI. PRESIDENT TRUMAN CHAMPIONED HEALTH INSURANCE BENEFITS DURING HIS PRESIDENCY. AT THE SIGNING CEREMONY, PRESIDENT TRUMAN AND FIRST LADY BESS WERE ENROLLED AS THE FIRST MEDICARE APPLICANTS BY PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON.
>> THEY TOLD ME, PRESIDENT TRUMAN, THAT IF YOU WISH TO GET THE VOLUNTARY MEDICAL INSURANCE, THAT YOU'LL HAVE TO SIGN THIS APPLICATION FORM. [ LAUGHTER ] AND THEY ASKED ME TO SIGN AS YOUR WITNESS. [ LAUGHTER ] SO YOU'RE GETTING SPECIAL TREATMENT, SINCE CARDS WON'T GO OUT TO THE OTHER FOLKS UNTIL THE END OF THIS MONTH. BUT WE WANTED YOU TO KNOW AND WE WANTED THE ENTIRE WORLD TO KNOW THAT WE HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN -- [ LAUGHTER ] -- WHO IS THE REAL DADDY OF MEDICARE. [ APPLAUSE ]
>> UNDER THIS PROGRAM, HEALTH COVERAGE WAS EXTENDED TO SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFICIARIES AGE 65 AND OLDER. WITHIN THE FIRST THREE YEARS OF THE MEDICARE PROGRAM, NEARLY 20 MILLION RECEIVED BENEFITS.

>>1970s & 1980s:
IN 1969, PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON IDENTIFIED A NEED TO REFORM FEDERALLY-FUNDED WELFARE PROGRAMS. SECRETARY OF HEALTH, EDUCATION AND WELFARE ELLIOT RICHARDSON, PROPOSED THAT SOCIAL SECURITY TAKE OVER THE ADULT CATEGORIES IN ORDER TO STREAMLINE AND INCREASE EFFICIENCY. THE RESULT WAS THE SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME PROGRAM. PRESIDENT NIXON SIGNED SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME INTO LAW AS PART OF THE 1972 AMENDMENTS. THIS PROGRAM, ALSO KNOWN AS SSI, WAS A NEEDS-BASED PROGRAM THAT PROVIDED ASSISTANCE TO LOW-INCOME ELDERLY, BLIND, AND DISABLED PERSONS. IN THE EARLY 1980s, THE SOCIAL SECURITY PROGRAM FACED A SERIOUS SHORT-TERM FINANCING CRISIS. PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN APPOINTED A BLUE RIBBON PANEL KNOWN AS THE GREENSPAN COMMISSION. IT WAS NAMED AFTER ALAN GREENSPAN, AND WAS COMPRISED OF ECONOMIC EXPERTS, MEMBERS OF PRESIDENT REAGAN'S CABINET, FORMER SSA COMMISSIONER ROBERT BALL, AND FORMER SSA CHIEF ACTUARY ROBERT MYERS. THE COMMITTEE'S OBJECTIVE WAS TO STUDY THE VARIOUS FINANCING ISSUES AND MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR LEGISLATIVE CHANGES. THE COMMISSION ISSUED ITS FINAL REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS IN LATE 1982. IN APRIL, 1983, PRESIDENT REAGAN SIGNED THE AMENDMENTS INTO LAW, AND THE CHANGES TO THE SYSTEM WERE DRAMATIC. THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES THE RETIREMENT SYSTEM, OR FERS, WAS CREATED. AND FOR THE FIRST TIME, SOCIAL SECURITY EMPLOYEES WOULD BE REQUIRED TO PAY SOCIAL SECURITY TAXES AND WOULD BE ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS. FEDERAL EMPLOYEES HIRED AFTER JANUARY 1ST, 1984, WERE AUTOMATICALLY COVERED UNDER THE NEW FERS SYSTEM.

>>Independence:
SOCIAL SECURITY BEGAN AS AN INDEPENDENT AGENCY WHEN THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT OF 1935 ESTABLISHED A SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD. BEGINNING IN EARLY 1937, PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT SENT TO CONGRESS A SERIES OF MESSAGES AND PROPOSALS REGARDING REORGANIZATION OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH. HIS GOAL WAS TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF AGENCIES REPORTING TO HIM. THE REORGANIZATION ACT OF 1939 WAS THE RESULT OF THIS EFFORT. THE PRESIDENT'S REORGANIZATION PLAN NUMBER 1 CREATED THE FEDERAL SECURITY AGENCY AS A NEW SUB-CABINET AGENCY, AND LOCATED THE BOARD WITHIN IT. AS A RESULT, THE SOCIAL SECURITY BOARD LOST ITS STATUS AS AN INDEPENDENT AGENCY, NO LONGER REPORTING DIRECTLY TO THE PRESIDENT. ON AUGUST 15TH, 1994, PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON SIGNED THE SOCIAL SECURITY INDEPENDENCE AND PROGRAM IMPROVEMENTS ACT IN TO LAW, RESTORING SOCIAL SECURITY'S INDEPENDENT AGENCY STATUS.
>> WHEN FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT MADE A SPEECH TO THE NEW YORK LEGISLATURE IN 1931, HE SAID THIS: THE SUCCESS OR FAILURE OF ANY GOVERNMENT MUST BE MEASURED BY THE WELL-BEING OF ITS CITIZENS. THAT WAS THE GOAL THAT MOVED HIM 59 YEARS AGO YESTERDAY. ON THAT DAY, IN A CEREMONY IN THE CABINET ROOM JUST BEHIND US, HE SIGNED THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT INTO LAW, AND THAT IS WHAT GUIDES US TODAY. WITH AN INDEPENDENT SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, WE ARE REINVENTING OUR GOVERNMENT TO STREAMLINE OUR OPERATIONS, SO THAT WE CAN SERVE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE BETTER.
>> THE LAW TOOK EFFECT ON MARCH 31ST, 1995. THE NEW LAW ALSO ELEVATED THE COMMISSIONER TO CABINET LEVEL STATUS, REPORTING DIRECTLY TO THE PRESIDENT HIMSELF.

>>Systems Modernization:
SINCE THE EARLY DAYS AT CANDLER IN THE 1930s, DAY-TO-DAY OFFICE WORK WAS ACCOMPLISHED VIA TYPEWRITER, PUNCH CARDS, AND GOOD, OLD-FASHIONED PAPER AND PENCIL. AFTER THE INTRODUCTION OF THE IBM 705 MAINFRAME IN 1956, AND CONVERTING FROM PAPER TO MAGNETIC TAPE RECORDS, SSA CONTINUED TO MODERNIZE ITS SYSTEMS THROUGHOUT THE FOLLOWING DECADES. IN MARCH OF 1977, THE NATIONAL MASTER BENEFICIARY RECORD WAS ESTABLISHED, MERGING THE BENEFICIARY FILES OF THE BUREAU OF DISABILITY INSURANCE, DIO, AND THE SIX PROGRAM SERVICE CENTERS. IN 1980, SSA OPENED UP THE NATIONAL COMPUTING CENTER. THIS NEW BUILDING OFFERED MODERN, DEDICATED COMPUTER FACILITIES FOR SSA'S GROWING SYSTEMS. BY THE LATE 1970s, THE MAGNETIC TAPE RECORD HAD GROWN TO OVER 600,000 REELS OF TAPE. WITH SSA'S SYSTEMS IN NEED OF A SERIOUS OVERHAUL, THIS PROMPTED THE SYSTEMS MODERNIZATION PROJECT IN 1982, PART OF WHICH WAS TO CONVERT ALL OF THESE REELS OF TAPE TO DISKS. AT THE SAME TIME, THERE WAS AN EFFORT TO MODERNIZE OFFICES BOTH IN THE FIELD AND AT HEADQUARTERS TO IMPROVE CUSTOMER SERVICES. SINCE THE 1970s, DUMB TERMINALS CONNECTED TO THE MAINFRAME WERE INCORPORATED INTO THE OFFICE ENVIRONMENT. ONE SUCH SYSTEM WAS KNOWN AS THE SSA DATA AND RETRIEVAL SYSTEM, OR SSADARS. THIS SYSTEM UTILIZED HIGH-SPEED TELEPHONE LINES TO CONNECT THE CENTRAL COMPUTING FACILITY, LOCATED AT SSA HEADQUARTERS IN BALTIMORE, TO SEVEN REGIONAL AREAS, WHERE SMALLER COMPUTERS CALLED CONCENTRATORS CONTROLLED THE OPERATIONS AND FORWARDED MESSAGES. LIFE IN THE OFFICE WOULD SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGE IN 1983, WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF SOCIAL SECURITY'S FIRST PERSONAL COMPUTER, THE IBM 5150. THIS IBM PC WAS PURCHASED FROM THE NOW DEFUNCT COMPUTERLAND STORE IN TOWSON, MARYLAND, AT A COST OF $9,600. HAVING NO HARD DRIVE, THIS 5150 WAS OPERATED BY THE USE OF TWO 360K FLOPPY DRIVES. THE AGENCY'S FIRST PORTABLE COMPUTER WAS THE NEC PRO SPEED 386. PURCHASED IN 1989, THE NEC PRO SPEED 386 COMPUTER WAS BILLED AS A DESKTOP COMPUTER WITH A PORTABLE COMPONENT. THE 17-POUND CLAMSHELL PORTABLE WAS DOCKABLE WITH A DESKTOP DOCKING SYSTEM. AN ADDITIONAL 4.6 POUND BATTERY PACK GAVE THE USER ONE TO TWO AND A HALF HOURS OF OPERATION. BY THE EARLY 21ST CENTURY, MODERN SSA SYSTEMS CONTINUED TO IMPROVE THE EFFICIENCY OF BENEFICIARY SERVICES. SOME SERVICES THAT USED TO REQUIRE A VISIT TO A FIELD OFFICE BECAME AVAILABLE ONLINE VIA THE INTERNET, SUCH AS RETIRE ONLINE.

>>In Summary:
ANCIENT SOCIETIES CREATED LAWS AND PROGRAMS TO AID AND FEED THE POOR CITIZENS UNDER THEIR PROTECTION. THE TREATMENT OF THE POOR WAS THE TOPIC OF MANY POLITICAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL DEBATES, AND HELPED SHAPE THE ANCIENT WORLD. BY THE MIDDLE AGES, ORGANIZATIONS KNOWN AS GUILDS FORMED TO PROVIDE ECONOMIC SECURITY FOR ITS MEMBERS, AND NEW LAWS IN ENGLAND WERE CREATED TO ADDRESS THE RISING ISSUES OF LABOR WAGES, VAGRANCY, AND POVERTY. THE ALMSHOUSE WAS THE PRIMARY SOURCE OF POOR RELIEF IN AMERICA FROM THE 18TH TO THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY. DURING THE LATE 19TH CENTURY, THE FOUNDATIONS OF MODERN SOCIAL INSURANCE EMERGED. GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE PENSIONS WERE INTRODUCED IN AMERICA, AND IN GERMANY, FULL-SCALE OLD-AGE PENSIONS FOR THE COUNTRY. WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF SOCIAL SECURITY IN 1935, THE UNITED STATES STARTED ON A PATH OF PROVIDING A FEDERALLY-ADMINISTERED SOCIAL INSURANCE PROGRAM THAT WOULD EVENTUALLY INCLUDE OLD-AGE PENSION, SURVIVOR'S, DISABILITY, HEALTH CARE, AND NEEDS-BASED BENEFITS TO MILLIONS OF AMERICANS. OVER THE DECADES, SOCIAL SECURITY HAS UTILIZED ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY TO PROVIDE EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE AND BENEFITS TO MILLIONS OF AMERICANS.
>> PATTY, I BOLDLY WENT TO SOCIALSECURITY.GOV AND IT'S OUT OF THIS WORLD.
>> SOCIALSECURITY.GOV IS A WEBSITE FOR EVERYBODY.
>> EVEN TEENAGERS?
>> ABSOLUTELY! YOUNG PEOPLE CAN HELP THEIR GRANDPARENTS WITH RETIRING ONLINE OR GETTING EXTRA HELP WITH THEIR MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS.
>> SO REALLY, EVERYONE, OF ALL AGES, SHOULD GO TO SOCIALSECURITY.GOV.
>> BOLDLY GO!
>> WITH THE ADVENT OF WEB-BASED SERVICES, BENEFICIARIES CAN NOW SIGN UP FOR RETIREMENT BENEFITS, RECEIVE BENEFIT ESTIMATES, AND DIRECT DEPOSIT BENEFITS VIA MODERN ONLINE SERVICES. AS NEW CHALLENGES ARISE IN THE 21ST CENTURY, SOCIAL SECURITY AND ITS DEDICATED STAFF WILL CONTINUE TO PROVIDE THE MOST EFFICIENT AND COST EFFECTIVE SOCIAL INSURANCE TO AMERICANS.

>>Conclusion:
THE UNITED STATES WAS NOT THE FIRST NATION TO IMPLEMENT A SOCIAL INSURANCE PROGRAM, BUT OVER TIME, ITS PROGRAM DEVELOPED INTO THE PREEMINENT WORLD STANDARD. FOR A MORE DETAILED HISTORY OF SOCIAL SECURITY, PLEASE VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT WWW.SOCIALSECURITY.GOV/HISTORY. FOR THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION'S HISTORIAN'S OFFICE, I'M RICHARD GABRYSZEWSKI. THANK YOU FOR JOINING ME ON THIS HISTORICAL JOURNEY. [ MUSIC PLAYING ]