Social Security time line
Aug. 14, 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, the nation's first major antipoverty insurance program providing benefits to older Americans.
1939 Ida May Fuller, above, of Ludlow, Vt., becomes the first retiree to receive a monthly Social Security check. Social Security is expanded to provide benefits to workers' survivors and the disabled.
1946 The first year of the baby boom starts a demographic bulge that will last for the next 18 years.
1950 Cost-of-living adjustments are applied to Social Security to protect benefits from inflation. … There are 16 workers for every retiree in the United States, more than enough to cover Social Security benefits.
1954 Congress expands Social Security to include benefits for disabled older workers and disabled adult dependents.
1960 Disability insurance is extended to cover disabled workers of all ages and their dependents.
1961 All workers are permitted to receive reduced, early-retirement benefits at age 62.
July 30, 1965
Medicare, the most far-reaching change to the Social Security system, becomes law, providing health insurance to Americans ages 65 and older.
1972 Social Security's new Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides additional benefits to poor seniors and begins covering the blind and the disabled — groups previously served by the states and localities.
1977 As Social Security benefit expenditures rapidly mount due to expanded coverage, Congress raises payroll taxes and increases the wage base — the maximum earnings subject to Social Security taxes — to restore the trust funds' financial soundness.
1983 Congress authorizes taxation of Social Security benefits, brings federal employees into the system and calls for an increase in the normal retirement age from 65 to 67, beginning in the 21st century.
2000 Privatization proposals gather momentum.
2001 President George W. Bush's Commission to Strengthen Social Security recommends ways to reform the program that would introduce personal investment accounts.
2008 The first baby boomers reach age 62, making them eligible to receive reduced, early-retirement Social Security benefits.
2010 Social Security starts paying out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes, years ahead of earlier projections.
2037 Projected date that Social Security would become insolvent barring changes to the system.
Sources: CQ Researcher, Social Security Administration