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Social Security And Medicare: A Quick History
by Scott Bittle & Jean Johnson

1930 Only 15 percent of workers are covered by retirement plans, many of which collapsed during the Great Depression.

1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act at a time when the average life expectancy is sixty-one.

1939 Children of retired workers and surviving children of deceased workers become eligible for benefits.

1954 Social Security is expanded to include agricultural and self-employed workers.

1956 Coverage is extended to disabled workers. Women become eligible for certain benefits at age sixty-two, rather than having to wait until they are sixty-five.

1961 Men become eligible for early retirement benefits at age sixty-two.

1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Medicare into law at a time when only 56 percent of older Americans have health insurance.

1972 Social Security is adjusted, ensuring that benefits rise with the cost of living. Medicare benefits are extended to some people under sixty-five with disabilities.

1977 As costs rise, Congress slows the growth of benefits and nearly doubles the payroll taxes that support these retirement programs.

1983 Congress increases the retirement age in several phases by 2027, from sixty-five to sixty-seven.

1993 Congress increases the Medicare payroll tax by making all earning taxable rather than just the first $135,000.

2003 President Bush signs a bill adding prescription drug coverage to Medicare.

2009 The Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds reiterate what they have reported before--the long-term costs of the two programs are "not sustainable" as they are currently designed.

2010 Congress passes and President Obama signs health care legislation that--among its many provisions--improves drug coverage for seniors, but also aims to cut nearly $500 billion from Medicare's costs between 2010 and 2019.

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