Oct 25, 2007

Social Security's First Disability Program

A little history about a little known program from a 1997 Social Security Bulletin article:
Disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act became part of the law in 1956, and Medicare came into being in 1965. We might assume, therefore, that the first cash disability payments made by the Social Security Administration (SSA) occurred sometime around 1956, and the first medical benefit claims would have been processed sometime around 1965.’ But in the early months of 1943, a small team from the Social Security Board (the organizational forerunner to SSA *), and the Public Health Service Administration, began adjudicating disability claims and medical benefit claims under the Civilian War Benefits (CWB) program.’ From March 1943 until the program ended in May 1945, SSA adjudicated about 1,000 disability claims and assisted in the processing of thousands of claims for medical-care reimbursement. The CWB program continues even into the present day. As of September 1996, there were four CWB beneficiaries-three receiving survivors benefits and one receiving partial disability benefits. The total benefit payout in fiscal year 1996 for this vanishing program was $14,773.4 The idea behind this unique wartime program was that there are inevitably civilian casualties of war, civilians who become injured or killed through some action related to the hostilities of war, and the intent was to pay disability, survivors, and medical-care benefits to such civilians.

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