A Brief History of Social Security

By Nathan C. Weaver, CPA, Manager

Social Security seems to be a program that most people are familiar with.  Before researching the program for the blog post, I did not realize some of the unique facts and circumstances the lead to the creation of the program, as well as the iterations it has had through the decades.  A few interesting tidbits of information are listed below:

  • From 1937 until 1942, Social Security was supposed to pay out a single lump-sum refund payment to eligible recipients.  However, this was cut short when in 1939 an amendment increased the benefit amount and accelerated the start of monthly benefit payments from 1942 to 1950.
  • The very first social security lump-sum refund recipient retired after one day of participating in the Social Security program.  Total paid in was $0.05 and the lump sum payment was $0.17.
  • Monthly benefits were first issued on January 31, 1940.  The amount the first recipient received was $22.54.
  • Cost of living increases did not start to factor into Social Security payments until 1950.  In 1975, the cost-of-living adjustments were tied to annual increases in consumer prices and the adjustments were completed automatically.
  • In 2000, the full retirement age test regarding the reduction of Social Security for those at or above full retirement age was eliminated.  At the time, there were around 900,000 individuals who were at or above full retirement age, working, and having their Social Security Benefits reduced because they were working.

Today, the Social Security program is often mentioned in the news regarding funding status and possible future steps.  The purpose of this blog is to share just a few bits of information as well as some ways the program has changed over the years.

I was greatly aided in writing this with a similarly titled report that the Social Security Administration produced.  A link to the entire PDF is list here:


Filed in: Client News