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Social Security - The First Payments Of Social Security

benefits monthly program lump

After the enactment of the Social Security Act of 1935 (42 U.S.C.A. § 301 et seq.) and the creation of the Social Security Administration (SSA), the federal government had a short time to establish the program before beginning to pay benefits. Monthly benefits were to begin in 1940. The period from 1937 to 1940 was to be used both to build up the trust funds and to provide a minimum period for participation for persons to qualify for monthly benefits.

From 1937 until 1940, however, Social Security paid benefits in the form of a single, lump-sum payment. The purpose of these one-time payments was to provide some compensation to people who contributed to the program but would not participate long enough to be vested for monthly benefits.

The first applicant for a lump-sum benefit was Ernest Ackerman, a Cleveland motorman who retired one day after the Social Security Program began. During his one day of participation in the program, five cents was withheld from Ackerman's pay for Social Security, and upon retiring, he received a lump-sum payment of seventeen cents.

Payments of monthly benefits began in January 1940. On January 31, 1940, the first monthly retirement check was issued to Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont, in the amount of $22.54. Fuller died in January 1975 at the age of one hundred. During her thirty-five years as a beneficiary, she received more than $20,000 in benefits.

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almost 2 years ago