View Full Version : Good Morning...First Social Security check received

1/31/2007, 06:36 AM
Jan. 31, 1940: First Social Security check hits the mailbox

67 years ago today, Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont, popped open her mailbox and found a check from the Federal government in the amount of $22.54. Though hardly a fortune, the check was nonetheless a milestone: indeed, it was the first monthly retirement payment made under the auspices of the Social Security Act.

When the act initially passed into the law books in 1935, benefits were paid out in lump sums. But, with Fuller's check, the government kicked off its program of doling out regular benefits to retired workers. For Fuller, it was simply the first in a series of payments that lasted for the next thirty-five years: Before passing away at age 100 in 1975, Fuller received regular payments totaling $22,000.

President Roosevelt signing Social Security Act of 1935 in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Also shown, left to right:
Rep. Robert Doughton (D-NC); Sen. Robert Wagner (D-NY); Rep. John Dingell, Sr. (D-MI); Unknown man in bowtie; Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins; Senator Pat Harrison (D-MS); Congressman David L. Lewis (D-MD). Library of Congress photo, LC-US262-123278.

While the Social Security Act was passed on August 14, 1935, the roots of the legislation can be traced back to the crash of 1929.

No one was particularly well prepared for the ensuing Depression, including the elderly. Government surveys taken during 1934 estimated that more than half of the nation's elderly lacked the means to support themselves. Clearly. they believed, the country needed some sort of system for providing for its aging citizens.

Gov't produced poster widely distributed to inform folks about the new government program

Various plans were hatched, including State-run pension programs, while America's leftist leaders marshaled surprising support for their economic proposals. But, as 1935 chugged along, the nation was still in need of a pension program. "New Deal"-ing U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt finally pushed a proposal through the Congress.

Compared to some of the other solutions developed at the time, the Social Security Act was relatively moderate: the bill mandated the now familiar "contributory system" in which workers forked over part of their salaries to a joint pension fund. As you'll see below, it was, and is, really a tax versus a contribution though.

Another gov't poster

Shortly after the passage of the bill, the government wheeled into action, creating an elaborate system for collecting, collating and doling out pensions. By January of 1937, the Social Security program was open for business. Over the years, Americans have socked away over $4.5 trillion in the fund, while more than $4.1 trillion worth of benefits have been paid out to the nation's retired citizens.

Yet another poster

The main thing that has changed since the concept's inception, is for years, people have been able to "draw" more than they themselves ever contributed -- sometimes a lot more. The system relies on the contributions (or taxes) of others who have not yet reached retirement age and begun to collect to cover the difference.

The future of Social Security...

Is uncertain. Opinions vary, but some eminent and esteemed experts would have us believe the current scheme simply isn't going to work for much longer as the monthly demand begins to exceed the fund's income. Most agree, that at some point in the future, that defecit will require a) a cut in benefits, b) an increase in the Social Security tax, or c) both.


One thing's for sure, as held by the US Supreme Court in 1958 in the landmark case, Fleming v. Nestor, Justice Harlan wrote in the majority
To engraft upon the Social Security system a concept of "accrued property rights" would deprive it of the flexibility and boldness in adjustment to ever-changing conditions which it demands. It was doubtless out of an awareness of the need for such flexibility that Congress included in the original Act, and has since retained, a clause expressly reserving to it "[t]he right to alter, amend, or repeal any provision of the Act...

We must conclude that a person covered by the Act has not such a right in benefit payments as would make every defeasance of "accrued" interests violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. (boldness added)

Not to get all political, but merely to state facts, put another way, just because you "put money in," it doesn't necessarily follow that you'll get money back someday. Social Security has no contract with you or anyone else. It is NOT insurance.

The original money-back guarantee had been removed in 1939. And the benefit cuts enacted in 1983 (gradually raised retirement age, benefit taxation, gradual cuts in the early retirement benefit) are further proof that one in fact has no real property rights.


As an aside, if you believe the plan needs an overhaul, get smart on the issue, then let your congresspeople know you want action. It just might help. Afterall, whether you're Dem or GOP, that is the American way.

That said, don't hold your breath. Even though the program may eventually bankrupt the gubmint, tinkering with it is as politically dangerous as trying to tickle a hungry grizzly bear


1/31/2007, 06:44 AM
Thank you FDR. NOT!

1/31/2007, 09:05 AM
The third rail of governement and our **** ant representatives don't even have to participate. They won't change a thing. But I will make the agreement right now. refund all that I have paid in and quit stealing from me every two weeks and I will never ask for government support. How bout it reps......

1/31/2007, 10:30 AM
Social Security is just another tax.

1/31/2007, 01:31 PM
I'm 36 and won't see a dime of what I've paid in. Thanks, FDR. :mad:

1/31/2007, 01:49 PM
ought-ought-ought, ought-ought, ought-ought-ought-two.

Damn that Roosevelt

1/31/2007, 01:59 PM
I've already recieved 17 years and 9 months worth of checks. They didn't make up for not having a Dad, but it was nice to get a return on the money he paid into the system before he passed away.

1/31/2007, 02:06 PM
Don't blame FDR, blame the cowards in Congress over the last few decades who will not admit there's a problem and make the tough choices and adjustments needed to ensure a safety net for elderly people. Republicans are just as guilty as the dems on this issue.

Oh BTW, FU to the AARP for keeping the scare tactics going and making sure SS is a sacred cow no one will touch.