On January 31, 1940, the first monthly recurring Social Security retirement check was issued, going to Ida May Fuller of Ludlow, Vermont.
Born in 1874, Ida May Fuller worked as a schoolteacher before becoming a legal secretary in 1905. Never married, she worked for about three years under the Social Security program before retiring in 1939 and starting her Social Security retirement at age 65 in January 1940.
She was the first beneficiary of recurring monthly Social Security payments. Her retirement amount was $22.54 per month and, at that time, cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) did not yet exist.
Ms. Fuller lived to be 100 years old, dying in 1975 with a secure place in Social Security history. Here is an October 1950 photo of Ms. Fuller:
However, while Ms. Fuller received the first monthly recurring Social Security benefit, she did not receive the first Social Security payment. That distinction is credited to Ernest Ackerman of Cleveland, Ohio.
|As noted in the history section of the Social Security website, “From 1937 until 1940 Social Security paid benefits in the form of a single, lump-sum payment. The purpose of these one-time payments was to provide some “payback” to those people who contributed to the program but would not participate long enough to be vested for monthly benefits. … The earliest reported applicant for a lump-sum benefit was a retired Cleveland motorman named Ernest Ackerman, who retired one day after the Social Security program began. During his one day of participation in the program, a nickel was withheld from Mr. Ackerman’s pay for Social Security, and, upon retiring, he received a lump-sum payment of 17 cents.” Here is an undated photo of Mr. Ackerman:Information today is from the History section of the Social Security website and, in particular, from the “Historical Development of Economic Insurance” section.|