AUGUST 9, 1944
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—Today, August 8th, in Cleveland, Ohio, there will be a little ceremony to mark the presentation by Mrs. Ellen S. Woodward, member of the Social Security Board of the Federal Security Agency, of the millionth benefit check presented under the federal old age and survivors insurance program. This check goes to Mrs. Mary Rex Thompson, recently widowed wife of a Cleveland war worker, and her two children, Dale Bernice, 4, and Gerald, 1.
On this day the program has been working for four years and seven months, and the total amount of monthly benefits is $18,300,000. The million beneficiaries are divided in the following way—418,500 retired workers, aged 65 or over, and 122,000 wives of retired workers who are over 65; 109,000 widows with young children, and 288,000 children of retired or deceased workers. Aged widows of 65 or over number 58,000, and aged dependent parents of deceased workers who left no widow or child under 18, and who are 65 or over, number 4,500.
This program of federal family insurance prevents destitution and provides a basic minimum subsistence if the breadwinner dies or stops work because of old age. The benefits are paid regardless of other resources, such as life insurance or savings.
Benefits are based on wages, so one person may receive more than another, depending on the wage earned. The highest monthly wage on which these benefits are figured is $250. Claims have to be filed, since the board has no way of knowing when a worker retires or dies, leaving survivors eligible for benefits. It is therefore important for everyone to know about this program and to file claims immediately, because under the law payments can be made retroactive only for three months.
Someday I hope that all workers will be covered in this way. As you know, the cost is shared by the employees and their employers. The employee puts in one percent of his wages, and an equal percent is contributed by the employer. This increases gradually until each will be paying three percent in 1949. All these payments go into the old age and survivors insurance trust fund in the United States Treasury. The workers not covered are mainly farm workers, those in domestic service in private homes, government workers in local, county, state and federal government, and those working in non- profit organizations, such as the Red Cross, the YMCA, and the church.