A Brief History Of Social Security

The Social Security Program began when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the 1935 Social Security Act. Originally named the Social Security Board (SSB) it only provided benefits for workers who became eligible for benefits at age 65.

In 1939, Congress passed amendments to extend benefits to spouses and minor children of retired and deceased workers. Disability benefits started in 1954 and, over the next few years, it was expanded to include the families of disabled workers. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) were added in 1972.

By 1975, the Social Security Trustee’s report warned that the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds were in danger of being depleted by 1979. To address the problem, Congress enacted amendments that increased the payroll tax, increased the amount of income eligible for the payroll tax, and reduced benefits slightly.

During the economic slowdown of the early 1980s the OASDI Trust Funds were again faced with short-term funding problems. As a result, Congress passed law that created a gradual increase over time of the Full Retirement Age (FRA) from 65 to 67. It also increased Social Security tax rates and new Social Security taxes for the wealthiest individuals. This law is still in place today.