First Social Security Check 74 Years Ago Today

On January 31, 1940 the U.S. Government issued the first Social Security check to Ida May Fuller (pictured below). The total… $22.50. After decades of alarmist warnings about the viability of the program, several proposals for reform have threatened the continuation of Social Security… but the politicians in Washington haven’t bucked and the program lives on.


In 2013, almost 58 million Americans received $816 billion in Social Security benefits.

That according to information reported by the Social Security Administration. Social Security continues to be the major source of income for most elderly people in the United States. Here are some key facts about Social Security directly from the report:


Nine out of ten individuals age 65 and older receive Social Security benefits. Social Security benefits represent about 39% of the income of the elderly. Among elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 53% of married couples and 74% of unmarried persons receive 50% or more of their income from Social Security. 23% of married couples and about 46% of unmarried persons rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income.

Social Security provides more than just retirement benefits. Retired workers and their dependents account for 70% of total benefits paid. Disabled workers and their dependents account for 19% of total benefits paid. About 91 percent of workers age 21-64 in covered employment in 2011 and their families have protection in the event of a long-term disability. Just over 1 in 4 of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67. 69% of the private sector workforce has no long-term disability insurance.

Survivors of deceased workers account for about 11% of total benefits paid. About one in eight of today’s 20 year-olds will die before reaching age 67.
About 96% of persons aged 20-49 who worked in covered employment in 2011 have survivors insurance protection for their young children and the surviving spouse caring for the children. An estimated 163 million workers are covered under Social Security.

51% of the workforce has no private pension coverage. 34% of the workforce has no savings set aside specifically for retirement. In 1940, the life expectancy of a 65-year-old was almost 14 years; today it is more than 20 years.

By 2033, the number of older Americans will increase from 45.1 million today to 77.4 million.

There are currently 2.8 workers for each Social Security beneficiary. By 2033, there will be 2.1 workers for each beneficiary.