January 1940: Social Security Benefits First Payable

Important Social Security related events took place during the month of January. From the history section of the Social Security website, here is one of them. 

As of January 1, 1940, monthly benefits first became payable under old-age and survivor’s insurance to aged retired workers and their dependents and to survivors of deceased insured workers. 

Survivor benefits were not in the original Social Security Act of 1935.  They were part of the 1939 Amendments.

The 1939 Amendments made a fundamental change in the Social Security program. The Amendments added two new categories of benefits: payments to the spouse and minor children of a retired worker (so-called dependents benefits) and survivors benefits paid to the family in the event of the premature death of a covered worker. This change transformed Social Security from a retirement program for workers into a family-based economic security program.

The 1939 Amendments also increased benefit amounts and accelerated the start of monthly benefit payments to 1940.