Selected Research & Analysis: History (General, Agency, Programs)

NOTE: Content on this page is intended for the research and policy analysis community and may not reflect the broader historical coverage by our agency's Historian's Office.
A Look Back at the Last Decade of the Retirement Research Consortium and the Disability Research Consortium
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 80, No. 1 (released February 2020)
by T. Lynn Fisher and John Jankowski

This article provides an overview of the Retirement Research Consortium (RRC) and the Disability Research Consortium (DRC) from the Social Security Administration's perspective, including a brief history of the development of the consortia, a discussion of their aims, and some thoughts on the future of extramural retirement- and disability-related research. The RRC and DRC planned and conducted research to develop information to assist policymakers, the public, and the media in understanding Social Security, retirement, and disability issues. Both consortia have been remarkably successful extramural research ventures that have expanded and advanced the knowledge base, trained new scholars to become the next generation of subject-matter experts, and provided objective, research-based input to the policymaking process.

Social Security Disability Insurance at Age 60: Does It Still Reflect Congress' Original Intent?
Issue Paper No. 2015-01 (released September 2015)
by Paul O'Leary, Elisa Walker, and Emily Roessel

Congress established the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program in 1956, after more than 20 years of debate. From the outset of the debate, however, there had been general agreement that the DI program should be for workers with substantial work histories, be funded through payroll taxes, include stringent disability criteria, provide modest benefit levels, and require return-to-work supports. Using administrative data on current DI beneficiaries, this issue paper examines how the program reflects those original tenets as it nears its 60th anniversary.

Remembering Robert J. Myers
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 70, No. 2 (released May 2010)
The Retirement Research Consortium: Past, Present, and Future
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 69, No. 4 (released December 2009)
by Paul S. Davies and T. Lynn Fisher

This article provides an overview of the Retirement Research Consortium (RRC) from the Social Security Administration's perspective, including a brief history of the development of the RRC, a discussion of the aims of the RRC, and some thoughts on its future. The mission of the RRC is to plan and conduct a broad research program to develop Social Security and retirement policy information to assist policymakers, the public, and the media in understanding the issues. The RRC has been a remarkably successful extramural research venture that has advanced the knowledge base on Social Security and retirement issues, trained new scholars to become the next generation of Social Security and retirement policy experts, and provided objective, research-based input to the policymaking process.

The Story of the Social Security Number
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 69, No. 2 (released July 2009)
by Carolyn Puckett

The use of the Social Security number (SSN) has expanded significantly since its inception in 1936. Created merely to keep track of the earnings history of U.S. workers for Social Security entitlement and benefit computation purposes, it has come to be used as a nearly universal identifier. Assigned at birth, the SSN enables other government agencies to identify individuals in their records and private industry to track an individual's financial information. This article explores the history and meaning of the SSN and the Social Security card, as well as the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) SSN master file, generally known as the Numident. The article also traces the historical expansion of SSN use and steps SSA has taken to enhance SSN integrity.

A Legislative History of the Social Security Protection Act of 2004
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 68, No. 4 (released March 2009)
by Erik Hansen

The Social Security Protection Act of 2004 (SSPA), with its administrative remedies and program protections, can be seen as another incremental step in the development of a social insurance program that best meets the evolving needs of American society. This article discusses the legislative history of the SSPA in detail. It also includes summaries of the provisions and a chronology of the modification of these proposals as they passed through the House and Senate, and ultimately to the president's desk.

Remembering Mollie Orshansky—The Developer of the Poverty Thresholds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 68, No. 3 (released December 2008)
by Gordon M. Fisher

In a federal government career that lasted more than four decades, Mollie Orshansky worked for the Children's Bureau, the Department of Agriculture, the Social Security Administration, and other agencies. While working at the Social Security Administration during the 1960s, she developed the poverty thresholds that became the federal government's official statistical measure of poverty; her thresholds remain a major feature of the architecture of American social policy and are widely known internationally.

An Overview of the Railroad Retirement Program
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 68, No. 2 (released October 2008)
by Kevin Whitman

The Railroad Retirement program was established in the 1930s. It provides retirement, survivor, unemployment, and sickness benefits to individuals who have spent a substantial portion of their career in railroad employment, as well as to these workers' families. This article describes the history, benefit structure, and funding of the Railroad Retirement program.

Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustments and the Consumer Price Index
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 67, No. 3 (released April 2008)
by Clark Burdick and T. Lynn Fisher

Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI, Social Security) benefits are indexed for inflation to protect beneficiaries from the loss of purchasing power implied by inflation. In the absence of such indexing, the purchasing power of Social Security benefits would be eroded as rising prices raised the cost of living. Recently, the Consumer Price Index used to calculate the Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) for OASDI benefits has come under increased scrutiny. Some argue that the current index does not accurately reflect the inflation experienced by seniors and that COLAs should be larger. Others argue that the measure of inflation underlying the COLA has technical limitations that cause it to overestimate changes in the cost of living and that COLAs should be smaller. This article discusses some of the issues involved with indexing Social Security benefits for inflation and examines the ramifications of potential changes to COLA calculations.

Social Security and the "D" in OASDI: The History of a Federal Program Insuring Earners Against Disability
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 66, No. 3 (released August 2006)
by John R. Kearney

This article explores the efforts of Social Security planners to establish a disability program in the United States and the history of the program over the past 50 years. It describes how the program has evolved and the internal and external influences that have affected its development.

Social Security: A Program and Policy History
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 66, No. 1 (released September 2005)
by Patricia P. Martin and David A. Weaver

The publication of this article coincides with the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Social Security Act. The history and development of the Social Security program from its inception to the present is discussed. Special attention is given to historical debates that have relevance to today's policy discussions. In particular, the article discusses themes regarding program growth, pay-as-you-go financing, reserve funding, rates of return on payroll contributions, and the adequacy of benefits.

Legislative History of Title VIII of the Social Security Act
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 64, No. 1 (released April 2002)
by Adrienne Croll

This article details the congressional effort to recognize the important contributions of Filipino veterans in World War II that led to the enactment of a new title VIII of the Social Security Act, "Special Benefits for Certain World War II Veterans." It describes the evolution of a proposal to pay a reduced Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit to Filipino and other World War II veterans who want to return to their homeland or otherwise live outside the United States. The article highlights the different options considered and the early implementation of payments by the Social Security Administration under the new program. Title VIII is the first benefit program administered by the Social Security Administration since the enactment of the legislation that created the SSI program in 1972.

Income Protection for the Aged in the 21st Century: A Framework to Help Inform the Debate
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 59, No. 2 (released April 1996)
by Peter M. Wheeler and John R. Kearney

It is becoming increasing difficult worldwide for the aged to sustain a minimum level of income protection into retirement. Rapidly aging populations and lower fertility rates are creating serious fiscal strains on current social insurance systems. A report issued by the World Bank maintains that countries whose primary mechanism for providing old-age income protection is a publicly managed social insurance system will experience significant difficulties unless they make structural changes in their programs. Actuarial estimates indicate that benefit payments in the United States could in fact exceed income to the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund by 2029 and a variety of proposals to address this problem are being advanced. We suggest a framework to evaluate such proposals based on a set of core values (fairness, adequacy, and efficiency) and analyze some of the proposed changes both in relation to how they have been employed in other countries and within the context of the framework. The purpose of this article is to inform and help structure a most important debate.

Social Security Administration Created as an Independent Agency: Public Law 103-296
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 58, No. 1 (released January 1995)
by Rita L. DiSimone
Social Security Programs in the United States, 1993
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 56, No. 4 (released October 1993)
Social Security Numbers Issued: A 20-Year Review
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 56, No. 1 (released January 1993)
by Wayne S. Long
The Development and History of the Poverty Thresholds
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 55, No. 4 (released October 1992)
by Gordon M. Fisher
Social Security Programs in the United States
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 54, No. 9 (released September 1991)
Social Security Programs in the United States
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 52, No. 7 (released July 1989)
Research Grant Summaries
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 52, No. 1 (released January 1989)
Report of the Disability Advisory Council: Executive Summary
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 51, No. 9 (released September 1988)
Research and Social Security Policy in the United States
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 50, No. 10 (released October 1987)
by Jane L. Ross
Social Security Programs in the United States, 1987
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 50, No. 4 (released April 1987)
The Employment Opportunities for Disabled Americans Act: Legislative History and Summary of Provisions
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 50, No. 3 (released March 1987)
by Sarah G. Rocklin and David R. Mattson
Social Security Programs in the United States
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 49, No. 1 (released January 1986)
Social Security Disability Benefits Reform Act of 1984: Legislative History and Summary of Provisions
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 48, No. 4 (released April 1985)
by Katharine P. Collins and Anne Erfle
A 10-Year Review of the Supplemental Security Income Program
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 47, No. 1 (released January 1984)
by John Trout and David R. Mattson
Social Security Amendments of 1983: Legislative History and Summary of Provisions
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 46, No. 7 (released July 1983)
by John A. Svahn and Mary Ross
Report of the National Commission on Social Security Reform
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 46, No. 2 (released February 1983)
Restoration of Certain Minimum Benefits and Other OASDI Program Changes: Legislative History and Summary of Provisions
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 45, No. 3 (released March 1982)
by John A. Svahn
Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1981: Legislative History and Summary of OASDI and Medicare Provisions
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 44, No. 10 (released October 1981)
by John A. Svahn
Report of the National Commission on Unemployment Compensation
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 44, No. 10 (released October 1981)
by Daniel N. Price
Report of the President's Commission on Pension Policy: Executive Summary
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 44, No. 5 (released May 1981)
Social Security Disability Amendments of 1980: Legislative History and Summary of Provisions
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 44, No. 4 (released April 1981)
Report of the Universal Social Security Coverage Study Group: Executive Summary
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 43, No. 6 (released June 1980)
Reports of the 1979 Advisory Council on Social Security
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 43, No. 2 (released February 1980)
Research Grants Studies
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 42, No. 7 (released July 1979)
Social Security Amendments of 1977: Legislative History and Summary of Provisions
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 41, No. 3 (released March 1978)
by John Snee and Mary Ross
Research Grants Studies
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 40, No. 8 (released August 1977)
Social Security Act Amendments
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 39, No. 3 (released March 1976)
Research Grants Studies
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 37, No. 11 (released November 1974)
Research Grants Studies
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 37, No. 5 (released May 1974)
Social Security Act Amendments, End of 1973
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 37, No. 4 (released April 1974)
Social Security Amendments of 1972: Summary and Legislative History
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 36, No. 3 (released March 1973)
by Robert M. Ball
Report of the National Commission on State Workmen's Compensation Laws
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 35, No. 10 (released October 1972)
Social Security Numbers Issued, 1937–71
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 35, No. 7 (released July 1972)
by Herbert R. Tacker
Reports of the 1971 Advisory Council on Social Security
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 34, No. 6 (released June 1971)
Social Security Numbers Issued, 1967
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 32, No. 6 (released June 1969)
Reports to Congress on OASDHI Studies
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 32, No. 3 (released March 1969)
Social Security and Economic and Development: Seminar Report
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 31, No. 3 (released March 1968)
by Thomas C. Blaisdell, Jr.
Social Security Amendments of 1967: Summary and Legislative History
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 31, No. 2 (released February 1968)
by Wilbur J. Cohen and Robert M. Ball
Social Security Numbers Issued, 1966
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 31, No. 1 (released January 1968)
Social Security and Development Planning: Some Issues
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 30, No. 6 (released June 1967)
by Paul Fisher
Social Security Issues: Fiftieth International Labor Conference
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 11 (released November 1966)
by Robert J. Myers and William M. Yoffee
Report of the Advisory Council on Public Welfare
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 9 (released September 1966)
Research Grants Studies
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 11 (released November 1965)
by Karen Bowles
Social Security Amendments of 1965: Summary and Legislative History
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 9 (released September 1965)
by Wilbur J. Cohen and Robert M. Ball
Social Security Legislation: Thirty Years in Review
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 8 (released August 1965)
Social Security Legislation in 1964
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 5 (released May 1965)
Report on the Fifteenth General Assembly of the International Social Security Association
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 2 (released February 1965)
by William M. Yoffee
Social Security Advisory Councils
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 26, No. 9 (released September 1963)
by James E. Marquis
Report on the World Social Situation
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 26, No. 8 (released August 1963)
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance: Interagency Relationships in Disability Insurance and Vocational Rehabilitation
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 25, No. 9 (released September 1962)
by Robert C. Van Hyning
A Report on the Fourteenth General Meeting of the International Social Security Association
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 25, No. 2 (released February 1962)
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance: Early-Retirement Provisions
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 24, No. 10 (released October 1961)
by Marice C. Hart
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance: Financing Basis and Policy Under the 1961 Amendments
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 24, No. 9 (released September 1961)
by Robert J. Myers
Social Security Amendments of 1961: Summary and Legislative History
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 24, No. 9 (released September 1961)
by Wilbur J. Cohen and William L. Mitchell
Social Security Legislation in the Eighty-Sixth Congress
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 23, No. 11 (released November 1960)
by William L. Mitchell
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance: Financing Basis and Policy Under the 1960 Amendments
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 23, No. 11 (released November 1960)
by Robert J. Myers
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Program: History of the Benefit Formula
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 23, No. 9 (released September 1960)
by Marice C. Hart
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance After Twenty-Five Years
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 23, No. 8 (released August 1960)
by Victor Christgau
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Provisions: Summary of Legislation, 1935–58
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 22, No. 1 (released January 1959)
by Robert J. Myers
Social Security Amendments of 1958: A Summary and Legislative History
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 21, No. 10 (released October 1958)
by Charles I. Schottland
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance: Financing Basis and Policy Under the 1958 Amendments
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 21, No. 10 (released October 1958)
by Robert J. Myers
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance: Development of Agricultural Coverage
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 21, No. 6 (released June 1958)
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance: Early Problems and Operations of the Disability Provisions
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 20, No. 12 (released December 1957)
by Arthur E. Hess
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Provisions: Summary of Legislation, 1935–56
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 20, No. 7 (released July 1957)
by Robert J. Myers
Social Security Amendments of 1956: A Summary and Legislative History
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 19, No. 9 (released September 1956)
by Charles I. Schottland
The Federal Credit Union System: A Legislative History
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 19, No. 5 (released May 1956)
by John T. Croteau
Social Security Objectives and Achievements
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 18, No. 8 (released August 1955)
by Wilbur J. Cohen
The Social Security Act: The First Twenty Years
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 18, No. 8 (released August 1955)
by Charles I. Schottland
Old-Age and Survivors Insurance: History of the Benefit Formula
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 18, No. 5 (released May 1955)
by Robert J. Myers
Social Security Act Amendments of 1954: A Summary and Legislative History
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 17, No. 9 (released September 1954)
by Wilbur J. Cohen, Robert M. Ball, and Robert J. Myers
Social Security Act Amendments of 1952
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 15, No. 9 (released September 1952)
by Wilbur J. Cohen
Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950: Summary and Legislative History
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 14, No. 4 (released April 1951)
by Wilbur J. Cohen and Evelyn F. Boyer
Social Security Act Amendments of 1950: A Summary and Legislative History
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 13, No. 10 (released October 1950)
by Wilbur J. Cohen and Robert J. Myers
Social Security Act Amendments of 1950 in Brief
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 13, No. 9 (released September 1950)
Report on the Nation's Health
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 11, No. 11 (released November 1948)
Social Security Legislation, January-June 1948: Legislative History and Background
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 11, No. 7 (released July 1948)
by Wilbur J. Cohen and James L. Calhoon
Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1948: Legislative History and Background
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 11, No. 5 (released May 1948)
by Gladys R. Friedman
A Comprehensive Social Security Program: Excerpts From the President's Messages
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 11, No. 1 (released January 1948)
Social Security Legislation in 1947
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 10, No. 9 (released September 1947)
Social Security Act Amendments of 1946
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 9, No. 9 (released September 1946)
by Angela J. Murray
Ten Years of Social Security Administration in the Southwest
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 9, No. 5 (released May 1946)
by Oscar M. Powell
A National Health Program: Message From the President
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 8, No. 12 (released December 1945)
Ten Years in Review
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 8, No. 8 (released August 1945)
A Report to the President by the Interdepartmental Committee to Coordinate Health and Welfare Activities
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 9 (released September 1940)