From 1937 to 1940 Social Security paid benefits in the form of a
single, one-lump payment, and monthly benefit payments began in 1942.
From 1937-1942 contributions were used to build up the trust funds
and provide a qualification period. The first lump-sum payment was to
a retired Cleveland motorman named Ernest Ackerman. He retired one
day after the law was enacted, and received a one-time payment of 17
cents. Ida May Fuller, from Ludlow, Vermont, was the first recipient
of monthly benefits.
The average lump-sum payment in the initial period was $58.06.
Today, the average monthly Social Security payment is $930, with the
maximum for fully retired workers in 2005 -- $1,939.
Retire on $930 a month? That's below the poverty level in the
United States. There can be endless debate on the merit of Social
Security at its inception, but we have come to believe that it is
designed to protect our senior population from cat food diets and
living on the street. Current plans being proposed all include a
decrease in benefits over the next 30 years of up to 20%.
This is one debate that begs of our officials to cast aside their
partisan politics and look at broader possibilities. Analyze multiple
options. Engage in information assembly. Poll bright financial minds.
Put down the need to be right, and develop a solution that leads all
Americans to a brighter future.
* CATHARINE COOPER can be reached at (949) 497-5081 or