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Cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) mandated to offset effects of inflation on fixed incomes. Future increases require Congressional action

1953 SSA becomes part of Department of Health, Education and Welfare (which becomes the Department of Health and Human Services in 1980)

Getting the signature: President Lyndon Johnson signs legislation creating Medicare and Medicaid in July 1965. At his left is former president Harry Truman, who proposed such a program in 1945. In the background, from left: Lady Bird Johnson, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and Bess Truman. (AP)


September Disability insurance program enacted. First version pays no cash benefits but establishes a "freeze" to help prevent erosion of disabled workers' benefits


August Disability program amended to provide benefits to permanently and totally disabled workers 50 to 65 and adult children, if disabled before age 18. (Today, disabled workers of any age qualify.)


June Act amended to permit all workers to elect to receive reduced retirement benefits at 62


July Medicare program established, offering health coverage to Social Security beneficiaries 65 and older


July A 20 percent COLA authorized, effective in September. Provisions are made for automatic COLAs, based on annual increase in consumer prices, to begin in 1975

October The Supplemental Security Income program established to oversee benefits for needy aged, blind and disabled people (individual programs previously administered by state and local governments); begins operation in 1974

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