This Month In History - January

January 29, 1932 The first State unemployment insurance law was enacted in Wisconsin.

January 1934 Dr. Francis Townsend and Robert Clements set up the organization Old-age Revolving Pensions, Ltd.

January 4, 1935 Roosevelt's message to Congress called for legislation to provide assistance for the unemployed, the aged, destitute children and the physically handicapped.

January 15, 1935 The Committee on Economic Security released its Report to President Roosevelt.

January 17, 1935 The Committee on Economic Security's recommendations, embodied in the Economic Security Bill, were introduced in the 74th Congress. Recommendations included Federal old-age insurance, Federal-State public assistance and unemployment insurance programs, and extension of public health, maternal and child health, services for crippled children and child welfare services, and vocational rehabilitation but not health insurance. S.1130 was introduced in the Senate by Senator Robert F. Wagner; H.R. 4120 was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Robert L. Doughton; and H.R. 4142 was introduced by Representative David J. Lewis.

January 21, 1935 Hearings began before the House Committee on Ways and Means on the Economic Security Bill. The Senate Finance Committee began hearings the next day.

January 1, 1937 Workers began to acquire credits toward old-age insurance benefits. Employers and employees became subject to a tax of one percent of wages on up to $3,000 a year. Lump-sum payments were first made payable to eligible workers, their survivors or their estates. The Federal unemployment tax payable by employers of 8 or more was increased to two percent of payroll.

January 1, 1940 Monthly benefits first became payable under old-age and survivor's insurance to aged retired workers and their dependents and to survivors of deceased insured workers. The Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund was established as a separate account in the United States Treasury to hold the amounts accumulated under the old-age and survivors insurance program. Basic provisions for hearing and review instituted by the Social Security Board under authority to establish procedures, hold hearings, and take testimony in relation to determination of rights to old-age and survivors insurance benefits (Office of Appeals Council).

January 31, 1940 Ida M. Fuller became the first person to receive an old-age monthly benefit check under the new Social Security law. She paid in $24.75 between 1937 and 1939 on an income of $2,484. Her first check, dated January 31, was for $22.54.

January 1955 The Bureau of Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance took the first "disability freeze" applications.

January 1957 The first disability payments were paid under OASDI, when benefits for this month went to retired or deceased workers' dependent children aged 18 or over, where a permanent and total disability had begun before age 18. The increase in OASDI contribution rates became effective; 2 1/4 % each for employers and employees and 3 3/8% for self-employed.

January 1961 The Bureau of Old-Age and Survivors Insurance began keeping its benefit rolls electronically. Under contract with RCA, the Bureau installed the first units in a complex of high speed, all transistorized electronic data processing equipment in its seven Payment Centers.

January 8, 1964 In his message on the State of the Union, President Johnson declared "unconditional war on poverty in America."

January 13, 1969 The Secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, sent to the President the report of the Task Force on Prescription Drugs as called for by the 1967 amendments.

January 14, 1969 DHEW Secretary Wilbur J. Cohen called for a program under Medicare to aid the elderly in paying for necessary prescription drugs used outside the hospital.

January 19, 1973 At a ceremony, the Administration Building at the SSA Woodlawn Complex was renamed the Arthur J. Altmeyer Building, in memory of the late Commissioner.

January 1, 1975 President Ford signs into law the Privacy Act of 1974. This law contains safeguards preventing the disclosure of information in government files if such disclosure would violate the privacy of individual citizens.

January 1978 Beginning with the 1978 tax year, annual reporting of wages by employers replaced quarterly reporting, although State and local entities would continue to report on a quarterly basis.

January 20, 1983 The National Commission on Social Security Reform (aka the Greenspan Commission) sent its recommendations for resolving the Social Security program's financial problems to the President and Congress.

January 23, 1996 An SSA employee who survived the Oklahoma City bombing, Claims Representative Richard Dean, was invited to sit with Mrs. Clinton during the President's annual State of the Union Address and Mr. Dean was introduced by the President in the course of his remarks.

January 6, 1997 The Social Security Advisory Council released its report. The Council offered three options for changing Social Security: (1) a Maintain Benefits plan; (2) an Individual Accounts plan; and (3) a Personal Savings Account plan.

January 3, 2001 The Social Security Administration announced several new rules that took effect January 1, 2001, that will allow more persons with disabilities to test their ability to work without fear of losing their cash benefits and important health care coverage. The first new rule increases the amount of earnings that are considered to be gainful employment from $700 per month to $740 a month and this rate will be automatically adjusted annually based on increases in the national average wage index. The second new rule increases the amount of earning that count as a Trial Work Month from $200 to $530 per month and links annual changes to increases in the national average wage index.The third and final rule in the package allows for more income to be excluded when a student who receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) returns to work.

January 30, 2003 Today, the General Accounting Office (GAO) announced it removed the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program from its high-risk list. In doing so, GAO recognized the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) efforts to improve the management of the program.

January 28, 2009 Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, announced that improvements to the agency’s computer modeling system have increased the number of claimants receiving expedited approvals for disability benefits.  Social Security’s two-track system -- the Quick Disability Determination (QDD) process and Compassionate Allowances -- is now fast-tracking about 4 percent of all disability cases, a sharp increase from the 2.7 percent of cases fast-tracked last year.

January 22, 2010 SSA announced that the agency is making new data about beneficiaries and the agency’s disability and hearing processes available to the public.  The new data supports the President’s Transparency and Open Government initiative and is available at