Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Social Security Administration [SSA]


(Record Group 47)
1934-86

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 47.1 Administrative History
  • 47.2 Records of the Committee on Economic Security 1934-35
  • 47.3 Records of the Social Security Board (SSB) 1935-48
    • 47.3.1 General records
    • 47.3.2 Records of the Informational Service
  • 47.4 General Records of the Social Security Administration 1935-73
    • 47.4.1 Records of the Office of the Commissioner
      • 47.4.1.1 Records of the Division of Program Research
      • 47.4.1.2 Records of the Division of Actuary
    • 47.4.2 Records of the Office of Public Affairs and its predecessors
  • 47.5 Records of the Office of Research and Statistics 1962-79
    • 47.5.1 Records of the Division of Economic and Long Range Studies
    • 47.5.2 Records of the Division of Retirement and Survivors Studies
    • 47.5.3 Records of the Division of Family Assistance Studies
  • 47.6 Records of the Bureau of Old-Age and Survivors Insurance 1936-45
  • 47.7 Records of the Office of Supplemental Security Income 1974-77
  • 47.8 Records of the Welfare Administration 1963-67
  • 47.9 Records of Social Security Administration Regional Offices 1951-79
  • 47.10 Motion Pictures (General)
  • 47.11 Sound Recordings (General)
  • 47.12 Machine-Readable Records (General)
  • 47.13 Still Pictures (General)
47.1 Administrative History

Established: In the Federal Security Agency (FSA) by Reorganization Plan No. II of 1946, effective July 16, 1946.

Predecessor Agencies:

  • Committee on Economic Security, 1934-36 Social Security Board, 1935-39 Social Security Board, FSA, 1939-46

Transfers: To Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) by Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1953, effective April 11, 1953; to Department of Health and Human Services, formerly HEW, by Department of Education Organization Act (93 Stat. 695), October 17, 1979; to independent agency status within the Executive Branch, effective March 31, 1995, by the Social Security Independence and Program Improvements Act of 1994 (108 Stat. 1465), August 15, 1994.

Functions: Administers national contributory social insurance programs including the Old-Age Survivors and Disability Insurance Program; supplemental security income program for aged, blind, and disabled; and aspects of the black lung benefits provisions of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 (83 Stat. 793).

Finding Aids: Debra L. Newman, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Social Security Administration, PI 183 (1976); supplement in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories.

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the Social Security Administration in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.
Records of the Public Health Service, RG 90.
Records of the Children's Bureau, 1912-1968, RG 102.
General Records of the Department of Labor, RG 174.
Records of the Office of Employment Security, RG 183.
General Records of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, RG 235.
Records of the Social and Rehabilitation Service, RG 363.
General Records of the Department of Health and Human Services, RG 468.

47.2 Records of the Committee on Economic Security
1934-35

History: Created by EO 6757, June 29, 1934, to study problems relating to economic security of individuals and make recommendations for a national social security system. Members included Secretary of Labor, Secretary of the Treasury, Attorney General, Secretary of Agriculture, and Federal Emergency Relief Administrator. Report submitted to the President January 15, 1935, with recommendations for unemployment compensation, old age insurance, and aid to dependent children, the aged, blind, and disabled. Officially terminated in April 1936.

Textual Records: Correspondence and other general records, 1934- 35. Subject files, statistical files, and reports, 1934-35. Correspondence and other records relating to pension plans, state legislation, and proposals for the Economic Security Program, 1934-35.

Subject Access Terms: National Conference on Economic Security; Townsend Plan.

47.3 Records of the Social Security Board (SSB)
1935-48

History: Established as an independent agency by the Social Security Act (49 Stat. 620), August 14, 1935. Consisted of program area Bureaus of Federal Old-Age Benefits (See 47.6), Unemployment Compensation, and Public Assistance. Assigned to FSA by Reorganization Plan No. I of 1939, effective July 1, 1939, under which Bureau of Unemployment Compensation was redesignated Bureau of Employment Security and given responsibility for U.S. Employment Service, which was transferred from Department of Labor. SSB abolished by Reorganization Plan No. II of 1946, effective July 16, 1946, and functions transferred to SSA.

47.3.1 General records

Textual Records: Records of the board including agenda and minutes of meetings, 1935-46. Correspondence, speeches, reports, and other records, 1935-40, arranged in subject, state, and alphabetical files. Records of the Executive Director, 1935-40, including subject, regional, state, and alphabetical files. Central files, 1936-45, including a master file, and regional, state, and alphabetical files.

Related Records: Additional records of the Social Security Board and of the U.S. Employment Service, in RG 183, Records of the Office of Employment Security.

47.3.2 Records of the Informational Service

Textual Records: Memorandums requesting approval of policy recommendations, 1938-45.

Motion Pictures (19 reels): Public information films describing procedures for obtaining benefits, 1936-40 (12 reels), including Social Security Explained, 1936; Social Security Benefits, 1940; Your Job Insurance, 1937; The Workers' Old Age and Survivors Insurance, 1936; Security for the People, 1939; and Old-Age and Family Security, 1936. Newsreels on the debate for the Social Security Act and the beginning of the Social Security program, 1936 (7 reels).
See Also 47.10.

Sound Recordings (6 items): "The Year 1939," explaining unemployment compensation, 1939 (1 item). "Our Town and Social Security," depicting the effect of Social Security on the lives of people, n.d. (1 item). "Labor Registration for National Defense," encouraging registration for defense work, ca. 1942 (1 item). Recordings accompanying filmstrips described below (3 items).

Photographs (25,557 images): Social security programs and benefits; recipients, workers, unemployed individuals, agency personnel, posters and exhibits, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing Social Security Act, 1936-48 (G, N, 25,000 images), with indexes. Activities of the Social Security Board, 1936-48 (GA, 500 images). Activities of the Children's Bureau, 1936-48 (M-CB, 28 images); Office of Education, 1936-48 (M-OE, 19 images); and Public Health Service, 1936-38 (PH, 10 images). See Also 47.13.

Filmstrips (10 items):"The Account Number Interview," n.d.; "Finding Men and Jobs," n.d.; "I Built That Plane," n.d.; "Looking Forward," n.d.; "Operations of the Control Division," n.d.; "Training Trainers to Train Trainers," n.d.; "Women Working for Victory," n.d.; "Families Without Fear," n.d.; "Security for Today and Tomorrow," n.d.; and "For the Benefit of All," n.d., and accompanying sound recordings (FS). See Also 47.13.

Finding Aids: Partial index to photographic series N. Index and shelflist to photographic series G.

Subject Access Terms: Evans, Walker; Lange, Dorothea; Rothstein, Arthur.

47.4 General Records of the Social Security Administration
1935-86

History: SSA as constituted under Reorganization Order No. II of 1946, consisted of the Bureau of Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (See 47.6), Bureau of Employment Security, and Bureau of Public Assistance (renamed Bureau of Family Services, January 1962), all from former SSB; and the Children's Bureau, transferred from the Department of Labor. Bureau of Federal Credit Unions established in SSA, effective July 29, 1948, to administer FSA responsibility, under an act of June 29, 1948 (62 Stat. 1091), for the Federal Credit Union System. Bureau of Employment Security transferred to Department of Labor by Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1949, effective August 20, 1949. Children's Bureau and Bureau of Family Services transferred to Welfare Administration by HEW reorganization, January 28, 1963.

To implement Title I (Health Insurance for the Aged [Medicare] Act) of the Social Security Amendments of 1965 (79 Stat. 290), July 30, 1965, SSA was reorganized, pursuant to Commissioner's Bulletin, July 26, 1965, into Bureau of Disability and Health Insurance, Bureau of Federal Credit Unions, and Bureau of Retirement and Survivors Insurance. Bureau of Disability and Health Insurance split into Bureau of Disability Insurance and Bureau of Health Insurance by Commissioner's Bulletin, August 19, 1965. Functions of Bureau of Federal Credit Unions transferred to newly established National Credit Union Administration by an act of March 10, 1970 (84 Stat. 49). Bureau of Supplemental Security Income (See 47.7) established in SSA, January 1973, to administer Title III (Supplemental Security Income for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled) of the Social Security Amendments of 1972 (86 Stat. 1465), October 30, 1972.

SSA reorganization announced in Commissioner's Bulletin 142, January 28, 1975, established the Office of Program Operations under an Associate Commissioner for Program Operations, to which were assigned the Bureaus of Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, and Retirement and Survivors Insurance, with the Bureau of Health Insurance continuing to report directly to the SSA Commissioner. This latter bureau, which administered SSA responsibility, under Title I of the Social Security Amendments of 1965, for Medicare and Medicaid programs, transferred to Health Care Financing Administration by HEW reorganization, March 8, 1977. In this reorganization SSA acquired the Assistance Payments Administration and the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) from the abolished Social and Rehabilitation Service. OCSE was continued as an autonomous unit, separate from SSA, but under the direction of the SSA Commissioner. The Assistance Payments Administration was redesignated the Office of Family Assistance under an Associate Commissioner for Family Assistance.

SSA reorganization announced in Commissioner's Bulletin, January 5, 1979, but not fully implemented until November 1979, established positions of Deputy Commissioner (Operations) and Deputy Commissioner (Programs). To the latter were assigned the Office of Family Assistance and the Office of Program Operations, redesignated the Office of Operations, Policy, and Procedures. The bureaus under the former Office of Program Operations were redesignated offices: Bureau of Disability Insurance became Office of Disability Programs, Bureau of Supplemental Security Income became Office of Assistance Programs, and Bureau of Retirement and Survivors Insurance became Office of Insurance Programs.

In SSA reorganization of June 1983, the number of deputy commissioners was expanded to four. Former Deputy Commissioner (Programs), redesignated Deputy Commissioner, Office of Programs and Policy, was made responsible for the Office of Family Assistance, Office of Retirement and Survivors Insurance (formerly the Office of Insurance Programs), Office of Supplemental Security Income (formerly Office of Assistance Programs), and the Office of Disability (formerly Office of Disability Programs). OCSE made an autonomous unit under HHS, April 1985. Assigned, with Office of Family Assistance, SSA, to newly established Family Assistance Administration in HHS reorganization, April 4, 1986. Office of Programs and Policy redesignated Office of Programs, October 1986.

47.4.1 Records of the Office of the Commissioner

Textual Records: Correspondence, 1941-50. Agenda and minutes of meetings, 1946-63. Minutes of meetings of the Social Security Commissioner and the Welfare Commissioner, 1946-67. Recommendations, submittals, notes relating to policy and procedural decisions of the Board of Social Security, Commissioner of Social Security, and Welfare Commissioner, with index, 1935-67.

47.4.1.1 Records of the Division of Program Research

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1951-59.

47.4.1.2 Records of the Division of Actuary

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1946-59. Actuarial studies, 1967-74, 1977-86.

47.4.2 Records of the Office of Public Affairs and its
predecessors

Motion Pictures (347 reels): Public service documentaries, newsreels, and shorts, 1951-73 (30 reels), explaining history and function of social security, Medicare, survivors and disability insurance, and supplemental security income programs, including Your Social Security, 1951; The Social Security Story, 1970; You and Medicare, 1966; Medicare: Health Insurance for People 65 and Older, 1965; Social Security in the Soviet Union, ca. 1959; Getting in the Act: A Short History of Social Security, 1973; and Social Security in America, 1966. Weekly public service television series, Social Security in Action, 1958-66 (317 reels), discussing the lives and careers of public personalities, including producer Cecil B. DeMille, prizefighter Archie Moore, cartoonist Dave Fleisher, writer Rod Serling, composer Max Steiner, director George Cukor, and such entertainers as Eddie Cantor, Danny Thomas, Joey Bishop, Jonathan Winters, Edward G. Robinson, Dick Van Dyke, Edgar Bergen, Harold Lloyd, Rex Ingram, Paul Lynde, Jane Russell, Rudy Vallee, David Nelson, and Francis X. Bushman. See Also 47.10.

Photographs (45,000 images):SSA personnel, conferences and conventions, beneficiaries, and social service programs; SSA personnel visiting rural and urban areas; Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry S. Truman; and President Lyndon B. Johnson signing Medicare law, 1953-70 (SSA). See Also 47.13.

Color Slides (2,211 images): Trip by SSA personnel to Soviet Union, Sweden, Finland, Scotland, Berlin, and West Germany, 1958 (SSC, 597 images). African-American children, 1968 (SSD, 64 images). SSA personnel; conventions; advertising campaigns; disabled people; migrant workers in California; and Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson, 1955-67 (SSB, 1,570 images). See Also 47.13.

Posters: Eligibility and application information for Social Security programs (24 images).

47.5 Records of the Office of Research and Statistics
1941-50, 1962-79

History: SSA Division of Program Research redesignated Division of Research and Statistics by HEW reorganization, January 28, 1963. Redesignated Office of Research and Statistics in SSA reorganization pursuant to Commissioner's Bulletin, July 26, 1965.

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1945-50. Statistical reports relating to family composition, 1941-42.

47.5.1 Records of the Division of Economic and Long Range Studies

History: Established in the Office of Research and Statistics, April 1968. With Census Bureau and Internal Revenue Service, conducted 1973 Exact Match Study.

Machine-Readable Records (6 data sets): 1973 Exact Match Study, linking Social Security and Internal Revenue Service data with Census Bureau information, with supporting documentation. See Also 47.12.

Related Records: Statistics of Income, in RG 58, Records of the Internal Revenue Service. Current Population Surveys, in RG 29, Records of the Bureau of the Census.

47.5.2 Records of the Division of Retirement and Survivors
Studies

History: Established in the Office of Research and Statistics, April 1968.

Machine-Readable Records (10 data sets): Longitudinal Retirement History Study (RHS), 1969-79 (9 data sets), with supporting documentation. Study of 1967 demographic and economic characteristics of the aged, 1967-75 (1 data set), with supporting documentation. See Also 47.12.

47.5.3 Records of the Division of Family Assistance Studies

History: Established in the Office of Research and Statistics in 1980.

Textual Records: Correspondence and other records relating to eligibility review of aid to families with dependent children (AFDC), 1962-64.

Machine-Readable Records (6 data sets):Characteristics of households receiving AFDC benefits, 1967-77, with supporting documentation. See Also 47.12.

47.6 Records of the Bureau of Old-Age and Survivors Insurance
1936-63

History: Established in the Social Security Board as the Bureau of Federal Old-Age Benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act (49 Stat. 620), August 14, 1935. Renamed Bureau of Old-Age Insurance, June 1937, following Supreme Court decision of May 24, 1937, upholding constitutionality of Titles II and VIII of the Social Security Act. Redesignated Bureau of Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, August 1939, with responsibility for administering monthly survivors benefits under Title II (Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Benefits), effective January 1, 1940, of the Social Security Act Amendments of 1939 (53 Stat. 136), August 10, 1939. Abolished in HEW reorganization of January 28, 1963, with SSA Commissioner assuming direct administration of former components. Reconstituted as Bureau of Retirement and Survivors Insurance in SSA reorganization pursuant to Commissioner's Bulletin, July 26, 1965. Assigned in SSA reorganization to newly established Office of Program Operations under Assistant Commissioner for Program Operations, by Commissioner's Bulletin 142, January 28, 1975. Redesignated Office of Insurance Programs in SSA reorganization, and assigned to redesignated Office of Operations, Policy, and Procedures, under Deputy Commissioner (Programs), by Commissioner's Bulletin, January 5, 1979. Redesignated Office of Retirement and Survivors Insurance, under redesignated Deputy Commissioner, Office of Programs and Policy in SSA reorganization, June 1983.

Textual Records: General correspondence ("Master File"), 1936-45. Correspondence with regional offices ("Regional File"), 1936-45; field offices ("Field File"), 1936-45; and area offices ("Area File"), 1942-45. Weekly, monthly, and annual reports, 1936-40. Correspondence files of Director Victor Christgau, 1954-63.

47.7 Records of the Office of Supplemental Security Income
1974-77

History: Adult Assistance Task Force and Program Policy Staff established in SSA, October 1971, to deal with proposed legislation federalizing adult welfare benefits. Two units merged to form Adult Assistance Planning Staff, February 1972. Superseded by Bureau of Supplemental Security Income, established January 1973, to administer SSA responsibilities under Title III (Supplemental Security Income for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled) of the Social Security Amendments of 1972 (86 Stat. 1465), October 30, 1972, effective January 1, 1974. Assigned in SSA reorganization to newly established Office of Program Operations, under Associate Commissioner for Program Operations, by Commissioner's Bulletin 142, January 28, 1975. Redesignated Office of Assistance Programs in SSA reorganization and assigned to redesignated Office of Operations, Policy, and Procedures, under Deputy Commissioner (Programs) by Commissioner's Bulletin, January 5, 1979. Redesignated Office of Supplemental Security Income, under redesignated Deputy Commissioner, Office of Programs and Policy in SSA reorganization, June 1983.

Textual Records: State supplemental agreements, 1974-77.

47.8 Records of the Welfare Administration
1963-67

History: Established by HEW reorganization of January 28, 1963. Consisted of Bureau of Family Services, Children's Bureau, Office of Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Development, and Cuban Refugee Staff. Abolished and functions assigned to Social and Rehabilitation Service in HEW reorganization, August 15, 1967.

Textual Records: Minutes of staff meetings, 1963-67. State emergency welfare file, 1963-67. Organizational planning studies, 1967. Records relating to the Cuban Refugee Program, 1962-65.

47.9 Records of the Social Security Administration Regional Offices
1951-79

47.9.1 Records of Region 7

History: SSA regional offices came into existence with the establishment of the Social Security Board in 1935. By 1979 there were ten regional offices, each directed by a Regional Commissioner. Region 7, headquartered in Kansas City, MO, has jurisdiction over Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.

Textual Records: Insurance program state agreements, 1951-79 (in Kansas City).

47.10 Motion Pictures (General)

See Under 47.3.2 and 47.4.2.

47.11 Sound Recordings (General)

See Under 47.3.2.

47.12 Machine-Readable Records (General)

See Under 47.5.1-47.5.3.

47.13 Still Pictures (General)

See Photographs under 47.3.2 and 47.4.2.
See Color Slides under 47.4.2.
See Filmstrips under 47.3.2.


Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


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