February 18, 2014

 A look at some historical Social Security & Medicare posters

First off, a disclaimer: this post isn't directly related to Medicare Supplement sales – it’s just a (hopefully) fun look at the past.

If you’re anything like me, you love to look at old photos, posters, ads, and artwork from previous decades. I recently stumbled across a collection of historical items from the Social Security Administration, and had to share.

These posters start in 1936, and run up through the present.

New to the industry? Start here: Medicare Basics for New Senior Market Insurance Agents

SSA Posters

Join the March (1936)

This poster exhorts workers to register (through the Post Office) for a Social Security number in order to participate in the new program.

SSA Posters

A Monthly Check To You (1936-1937)

This classic poster was distributed from 11/36-7/37 during the initial issuance of Social Security numbers through U.S. post offices and with the help of labor unions.

SSA Posters

Payment In Case of Death (1937-1939)

This poster from the period 1937-1939 announces the fact that during this time Social Security paid lump-sum benefits to the estates of covered workers who died before attaining age 65. This type of benefit was discontinued by the 1939 Social Security Amendments and was replaced by the much more valuable survivors benefits program.

SSA Posters

More Security (1939)

This poster announces the passage of the 1939 Social Security Amendments. These important amendments transformed Social Security from a retirement program for individual workers, into a family income security program--providing retirement, survivors and dependents benefits.

SSA Posters

Don't Lose Benefits! (1948)

When your “worker” dies, make sure to check in with your local office!

SSA Posters

Copy Right! (1951)

This 1951 poster was part of a continuing campaign to reduce errors in the use of Social Security numbers.

SSA Posters

Nearing 65? (1965)

This 1968 poster informs seniors about the Medicare program that was added to Social Security in 1965 (first benefits payable in 1966).

SSA Posters

Direct Deposit II (1997)

This 1997 poster hits on one of SSA's most persistent themes--the advantages of direct deposit. 

SSA Posters

Medicare Brochure (2014)

Today, posters aren’t in use as much. It seems unlikely that anyone would look up from their mobile phone long enough to look at one. Today, we’re more accustomed to getting our info from the internet.

While it’s interesting to see how the style of the artwork changed over the years, what’s really interesting to me is how great this must have seemed when the Social Security program was new, compared with the present day, when the SSA fully admits that “neither Medicare nor Social Security can sustain projected long-run programs in full under currently scheduled financing, and legislative changes are necessary to avoid disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers.”

Social Security and Medicare together accounted for 38% of federal expenditures in fiscal year 2012. This makes me wonder what other “great” government programs we’ve started that will eventually be as broken as Social Security is now, whether it’s due to changes in leadership, funding, or public opinion. Before you get too depressed about that subject, check out the complete archives via the Social Security Administration’s website.

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