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Sun Nov 10, 2013, 06:03 PM

How Social Security was rolled out - November 24th, 1936

I was curious about the date of the roll-out as, after going through old boxes in my attic, I found my father-in law's original Social Security Card, dated November 24, 1936.

"Since the Social Security Board did not have a network of field offices in late 1936, it contracted with the U.S. Postal Service to distribute and assign the first batch of Social Security numbers through its 45,000 local post offices around the country. Of these 45,000 post offices, 1,074 were also designated as "typing centers" where the cards themselves were prepared. The procedure for issuing the first SSNs were that the SS-4 application forms were to be distributed by the post offices to employers beginning Monday, November 16, 1936. These forms asked the employers to indicate how many employees they had at their place of business. Using the data from the SS-4 forms, the post offices then supplied an SS-5 form for each employee and these forms (on which the assignment of an SSN was based) were to be distributed by the post offices beginning Tuesday, November 24, 1936. The completed SS-5 forms were returned to the post office where an SSN would be assigned and a card typed with the name and SSN. This step could happen on one of several ways. The person could return the card in person and wait while the "typing center" prepared their card, or they could hand the form to their local letter carrier, or they could put it in the mail. Once the SSN was assigned and the card typed, the local letter carrier then returned the card to the place of business as a piece of regular mail. The record of the SSN assignment was sent to Social Security headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland, where the master file of SSNs would be kept."

https://www.socialsecurity.gov/history/ssn/firstcard.html


The first card holder.

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Response to canoeist52 (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2013, 06:06 PM

1. In my youth, getting your Social Security card was a rite of passage.

 

And done at offices conjoined with United States Post Office, one in the same as the local Federal Building.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 10, 2013, 06:21 PM

3. My mom handed me my SS card when I was 11-12ish...

 

...and my first thought was of FDR. Noooo kidding - it was my first thought... at 11.

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Response to Cooley Hurd (Reply #3)

Sun Nov 10, 2013, 06:50 PM

5. Cool. That was what we did, that was when we still believed in America and America believed in us...

 


Us. The workers.

Maybe it was just a dream all along.

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Response to Cooley Hurd (Reply #3)

Sun Nov 10, 2013, 08:45 PM

7. That is what my mom did too.

Only I think I was 8 or 9 at the time...she was a great supporter of FDR and especially Elinor who she adored...

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Response to canoeist52 (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2013, 06:19 PM

2. The SS website has some excellent narratives of the history of SS

I had read through them a few months ago looking for some other info and couldn't stop until I was done!

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Response to canoeist52 (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2013, 06:29 PM

4. On the back of my father-in-law's card was hand-typed

the name and address of the company he worked for. Now we know where he worked when he was 22.

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Response to canoeist52 (Original post)

Sun Nov 10, 2013, 07:01 PM

6. There were definite losers in the original rollout

The 1935 act limited its provisions to workers in commerce and industry (this is what is known as the program's "coverage". This meant that the new social insurance program applied to about half the jobs in the economy. Among those left out were farm and domestic workers.


http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v70n4/v70n4p49.html

Actually, it was even worse at the initial rollout, and until the 1950s:

No self-respecting liberal today would support Franklin Roosevelt's original Social Security Act. It excluded agricultural workers -- a huge part of the economy in 1935, and one in which Latinos have traditionally worked. It excluded domestic workers, which included countless African Americans and immigrants. It did not cover the self-employed, or state and local government employees, or railroad employees, or federal employees or employees of nonprofits. It didn't even cover the clergy. FDR's Social Security Act did not have benefits for dependents or survivors. It did not have a cost-of-living increase. If you became disabled and couldn't work, you got nothing from Social Security.


http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_12/027029.php

But yeah, they issued those cards really well. I had a typewritten card (I was born in 1950).

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Response to frazzled (Reply #6)

Sun Nov 10, 2013, 09:20 PM

8. Right, but considering they started with nothing, this was a huge first step

like the ACA, which will evolve into single payer.

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Response to mountain grammy (Reply #8)

Mon Nov 11, 2013, 12:18 AM

9. Yes, that was my point

For all the criticism about a website—something completely ancillary to the actual law and benefits--and about the relatively minuscule number of "losers" -- we all know that in 5 or 10 or 20 years, people will be as attached to the ACA as they have become to Social Security. Nothing is perfect in the beginning. It's a process.

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