August 14,1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act which provides insurance and welfare programs for elderly, unemployed and disadvantaged Americans. At one time, the program was designed to just be a key financial benefit for Americans who reached retirement age. Under the act, the U.S. Government began collecting Social Security Tax as a provision to pay monetary benefits to persons age 65 and older based on lifetime payroll tax contributions. Under the 1935 law, monthly benefits began in 1942. From 1937 to 1942, one-time lump sum payments were given to people who contributed to the program but wouldn’t participate long enough to be vested for monthly benefits.
"This law represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means completed--a structure intended to lessen the force of possible future depressions, to act as a protection to future administrations of the Government against the necessity of going deeply into debt to furnish relief to the needy--a law to flatten out the peaks and valleys of deflation and of inflation--in other words, a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time provide for the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness." -August 14, 1935"
Over the years there have been many Amendments and legislation related to the Social Security Act. A few are listed below. Read more about social security history , and chronological history of Social Security related legislation enacted on the Social Security Administration’s website.
- In 1939, Amendments added dependents and survivor benefits.
- The 1972 and 1977 Amendments created the SSI program and introduced the Cost of Living- Adjustments (COLAs).
- The 1983 Amendments created many changes in the Social Security and Medicare programs including an increase in the retirement age.
- The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 implemented time limited benefits with a work requirement. Read the signing statement in the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1996, Book II)
- The Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996 did away with issuing paper checks and required that all federal payments which included Social Security be made by electronic funds transfer. Read the signing statement in the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1996, Book I).
- Public Law 108-173 Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 provided for a voluntary prescription drug benefit under the Medicare program.
- On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed H.R. 1, the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" (Public Law 111-5) which appropriated $1 billion to the Social Security Administration's budget which included technology upgrade of the National Computer Center and funding for processing disability and retirement workloads.
- Public Law 115-165 Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018
- Public Law 117-45 Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2021
Social Security Acts by Title (Statute Compilations)
A Statute Compilation is a compilation of the public law, as amended; it is an unofficial document and should not be cited as legal evidence of the law.
- TITLE I (Grants to States for Old-Age Assistance for The Aged) PDF | USLM
- TITLE II (Federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Benefits) PDF | USLM
- TITLE III (Grants to States for Unemployment Compensation Administration) PDF | USLM
- TITLE IV (Grants to States for Aid and Services to Needy Families with Children and for Child-Welfare Services) PDF | USLM
- TITLE V (Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant) PDF | USLM
- TITLE VI (Coronavirus Relief , Fiscal Recovery, and Critical Capital Projects Funds) PDF | USLM
- TITLE VII (Administration) PDF | USLM
- TITLE VIII (Special Benefits for Certain World War Ii Veterans) PDF | USLM
- TITLE IX (Miscellaneous Provisions Relating to Employment Security) PDF | USLM
- TITLE XII (Advances to State Unemployment Funds) PDF | USLM
- TITLE XVI (Supplemental Security Income for The Aged, Blind, and Disabled) PDF | USLM
- TITLE XVII (Grants for Planning Comprehensive Action to Combat Mental Retardation) PDF | USLM
- TITLE XVIII (Health Insurance for The Aged and Disabled) PDF | USLM
- TITLE XIX (Grants to States for Medical Assistance Programs) PDF | USLM
- TITLE XX (Block Grants and Programs for Social Services and Elder Justice) PDF | USLM
- TITLE XXI (State Children's Health Insurance Program) PDF | USLM
Additional Article Sources and Resources
- 42 U.S.C. 7 – SOCIAL SECURITY
- Historical Background And Development Of Social Security SSA
- Social Security Act Milestones National Archives
- Activities for students grades 6-12 National Endowment for the Humanities