Our Social Security system was enacted during the Depression, alongside several other landmark pieces of legislation, namely those establishing the SEC and the FDIC, not to mention Glass-Steagall, that have defined the way Americans have saved and invested ever since.

Ida May Fuller collected the first Social Security check ever mailed. She had retired from her job as a legal secretary in November 1939 after having paid a total of $25 over the previous three years into the new program. Her first check was for $22.54 so she “broke even” in less than two months. Not bad. The fact that she lived until 1975 and collected a total of $22,888 makes it even better (for her).

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