partners in the firm, John G. Sargent, would later become Attorney General in the
Coolidge Administration.

Ida May never married and had no children. She lived alone most of her life, but spent
eight years near the end of her life living with her niece, Hazel Perkins, and her family in
Brattleboro, Vermont.

Miss Fuller filed her retirement claim on November 4, 1939, having worked under
Social Security for a little short of three years. While running an errand she dropped by
the Rutland Social Security office to ask about possible benefits. She would later
Ida May Fuller was the first
beneficiary of recurring monthly
Social Security payments. Miss
Fuller (known as Aunt Ida to her
friends and family) was born on
September 6, 1874 on a farm
outside of Ludlow, Vermont. She
attended school in Rutland,
Vermont where one of her
classmates was Calvin Coolidge.
In 1905, after working as a
school teacher, she became a
legal secretary. One of the
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Quiz #147 Results
This is a photo of Ida May Fuller,
the first person to receive a check from Social Security,
check #00-000-001, in the amount of $22.54 and dated January 31, 1940.
The picture actually shows her receiving the first SS cost of living raise in 1950.
Answer to Quiz #147 - February 10, 2008
observe: "It wasn't that I expected
anything, mind you, but I knew I'd been
paying for something called Social
Security and I wanted to ask the people in
Rutland about it."

Her claim was taken by Claims Clerk,
Elizabeth Corcoran Burke, and transmitted
to the Claims Division in Washington,
D.C. for adjudication. The case was
adjudicated and reviewed and sent to the
Treasury Department for payment in
January 1940.  The claims were grouped
Infamous Woolworth Social Security Card
I searched on the amount plus "check" and
"woman" which turned up a bunch of online stores
for women's clothing but also a link of "famous
firsts" at the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. The
search result returned a snippet that included "first
social security check" and I thought that was just
the kind of thing you might run.

To verify, I did a search on Google Images for Ida
Fuller, found this pic on the Social Security site,
and read their history of her.
Derrick Schneider
How Derrick Solved the Puzzle
measure of fame, it was mostly a nuisance. The FBI even showed up at her door to ask
her about the widespread use of her number. In later years she observed: "They started
using the number. They thought it was their own. I can't understand how people can be
so stupid. I can't understand that."
Ida May Fuller's Payroll Contributions
Once the SSN records were
received in Baltimore they were
grouped in blocks of 1,000 and
the master records were created.
On December 1, 1936 the first
block of 1,000 records were
assembled and were ready to
start their way through the
nine-step process that would
result in the creation of a
permanent master record and the
establishment of an earnings
record for the individual. When

Mrs. Whitcher recalled coming back
from lunch one day to find her fellow
workers teasing her about her
new-found fame. They were singing
the refrain from a popular song of the
day: "Here comes the million-dollar
baby from the five and ten cent store."

Although the snafu gave her a
Claim to fame?

If you need a hint, just ask!
many purchasers of the wallet adopted the SSN as their own. In the peak year of 1943,
5,755 people were using Hilda's number. SSA acted to eliminate the problem by voiding
the number and publicizing that it was incorrect to use it. (Mrs. Whitcher was given a
new number.) However, the number continued to be used for many years. In all, over
40,000 people reported this as their SSN. As late as 1977, 12 people were found to still
be using the SSN "issued by Woolworth."
Mrs. Hilda Scrader
in batches of 1,000 and a Certification List for each batch was sent to Treasury. Miss
Fuller's claim was the first one on the first Certification List and so the first Social
Security check, check number 00-000-001, was issued to Ida May Fuller in the amount
of $22.54 and dated January 31, 1940.
FDR Signing the
Social Security Act of 1935
although his status is more symbolic than actual. John Sweeney died of a heart attack in
1974 at the age of 61 without ever receiving any benefits from the social security
program; however, his widow was able to receive benefits based on his work until her
death in 1982.
they had at their place of business. Using the data from the SS-4 forms, the post
offices then supplied an SS-5 form for each employee and these forms (on which the
assignment of an SSN was based) were to be distributed by the post offices beginning
Tuesday, November 24, 1936. The completed SS-5 forms were returned to the post
office where an SSN would be assigned and a card typed with the name and SSN. This
step could happen on one of several ways. The person could return the card in person
and wait while the "typing center" prepared their card, or they could hand the form to
their local letter carrier, or they could put it in the mail. Once the SSN was assigned and
the card typed, the local letter carrier then returned the card to the place of business as
a piece of regular mail. The record of the SSN assignment was sent to Social Security
headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland, where the master file of SSNs would be kept.

So the first card was issued, sometime in mid-November, 1936, somewhere in one of
1,074 post offices to someone whose identity and SSN are unknown. In theory, the
first card should have been issued on November 24th, but there have been reports of
cards showing earlier dates. It is not clear whether the cards with earlier dates were
actually issued on that day or whether some post offices predated some of their cards.
If the 45,000 local post offices followed their procedures, no cards could have been
issued before November 16th, and none should have been issued before November
24th. But here again, there is always the possibility that some local post offices failed to
follow their instructions. The best we can say with certainty is that the first SSN was
issued sometime in mid-November 1936. In any case, on whatever day the first card
was issued, hundreds of thousands of SSNs were probably issued on that same day, so
many people had Social Security cards issued on the very first day they became
John David Sweeney
Comments and questions? Join our blog!
The First Official Social Security Number
Congratulations to Our Winners!

Ashely Hicks and Jina Yi
Mr. Rick's Quiz Angels Do It Again!  All right Angels!

Tom Pincince                Dave Doucette
Joe Ruffner                Alice Miles
Jinny Collins                Gina Hudson
Jim Kiser                Judy Pfaff
Pamela Hoffman                Mark Ream
Cindy Brennan                Karen Kay Bunting
Donald Schulteis                Gary Sterne
John Chulick                Stan Read
Fred Stuart                Mary Fraser
Delores Martin                Mike Dalton
Bill Utterback                Bob Craig
Mary Atwood                Erica Augustine
Wayne Douglas                Grace Hertz
Elaine C. Hebert                Bob Witherspoon
Neil Ferguson                Karen Petrus
Andy E. Wold                Karen Rhea
Phyllis Barattia                Maureen O'Connor
Mary Osmar                Tom Tollefsen
Sheri Fenley                Carl Blessing
Venita & Bob Wilson                Milene Rawlinson
Dawn Colket                Edee Scott
Marty Guidry                Sherry Marshall
Deb Pritchard               Diane Burkett
Zach Chambers                Derrick Schneider
Doris Orzak                        Dan Schlesinger
Dennis Brann                Greg Webster
Tim Brixius                Andy Hoh
Mary Atwood                Brian Kemp
Marilyn Hamill                Debbie Sterbinsky
Dave Richardson                Cari Thomas
Lynda Snider                Robert E. McKenna
Kelly Fetherlin                Anna Farris
Frank Nollette                Beth Long
Sandy Thompson                Kathy Storm
Corey Condit                Sharon Martin
Joshua Kreitzer                Margaret Waterman
Maria Davis                Paula Harris
Betty Chambers                Richard Murray
Mary South                Mike Swierczewski
Evan Hindman
This questions was what Dave [Doucette] and I call a one-clicker.  A one-clicker is a
question you can get from Google with a single search phrase -- in this case "$22.54
first social security check"                                                             
   Tom Pincince

This is my big decision year -- should I start or wait?                              
Judy Pfaff

As soon as I looked at the photo, my immediate thought was - that must be the first
Social Security check, and sure enough, a quick web search found Ida Mae Fuller
showing off her check as the first recipient. Her eventual total receipt was over 900
times what she put into the system! No such hope for all of us now, even if we live to
be 100, as she did.                                                                      
Pamela Hoffman

Observations: Her name can be seen on the mail box. The US government issued
checks are very similar in design to those of today. The white envelope in hand is
shown with flap open. Had it actually been mailed through the Post Office, the envelope
would have been sealed and she would have needed some sort of  opener to slit the
envelope open. The open envelope was probably hand delivered by VIPs and she was
posed for the photo. In more recent times checks from the US government have arrived
in brown envelopes having windows so that address on check shows through for
benefit of the mail carrier and recipient.                                               
Mike Dalton

Another interesting quiz! I'm so pleased that it was a woman, Ida May Fuller (a legal
secretary) who was the first recipient of a Social Security check on January 31, 1940.
It's interesting that she had paid only 3 years of payroll taxes. She really got her
money's worth considering she didn't die until 1975!!!!!  By the time of her death, she
had collected $22,888.92 from Social Security monthly benefits, even though she had
contributed only $24.75 to the system.  It's very interesting that she attended school
with the future president, Calvin Coolidge.                                            
Grace Hertz

No wonder there's no money for the rest of us!                              
Elaine C. Hebert

Most of us use direct deposit so we don't need to wait by our mailbox.
Bob Witherspoon
Too Much Big Brother; it started them and the beat goes on.  Not very bright on the
horizon either. No statesmen on white horses either.                                  
Jim Kiser

Yes, and her check had more purchasing power than the check one receives today.
Fred Stuart
As Baby Boomers, my husband and I have been paying in for over 40 years we still
have many years to go. Considering inflation and the differential in pay in period, we
would be lucky to get the equivilant of her  $22.54 (if we live long enough.)
Sherry Marshall
I believe she may have been the only person to actually make money on the Social
Security system.  The rest of us would do better to invest our money in the stock
market and draw out the funds when we are 60.  I believe we probably pay in more
money to the social security system than we ever draw out.                
Marty Guidry

Found it once I used the advanced image search using grayscale and entered "check"
and "mailbox" in the "related to all terms" box along with "lady" and "woman" in the
"related to any term" box.  Interesting subject.                                        
Brian Kemp

I enjoyed this one and actually knew it was a social security check and figured it might
be the first one issued!                                                                        
Kathy Storm
The Quizmasters Put In Their 2-Cents Worth
Ida May Fuller and Social Security
Since the Social Security Board did not have a
network of field offices in late 1936, it
contracted with the U.S. Postal Service to
distribute and assign the first batch of Social
Security numbers through its 45,000 local post
offices around the country. Of these 45,000
post offices, 1,074 were also designated as
"typing centers" where the cards themselves
were prepared. The procedure for issuing the
first SSNs were that the SS-4 application
forms were to be distributed by the post
offices to employers beginning Monday,
November 16, 1936. These forms asked the
employers to indicate how many employees
Talk about Identity Theft!
The most misused SSN of all time was (078-05-1120). In
1938, wallet manufacturer the E. H. Ferree company in
Lockport, New York decided to promote its product by
showing how a Social Security card would fit into its
wallets. A sample card, used for display purposes, was
inserted in each wallet. Company Vice President and
Treasurer Douglas Patterson thought it would be a clever
idea to use the actual SSN of his secretary, Mrs. Hilda
Schrader Whitcher.

The wallet was sold by Woolworth stores and other
department stores all over the country. Even though the
card was only half the size of a real card, was printed all in
red, and had the word "specimen" written across the face,
The First Social Security Number
this first stack was ready, Joe Fay, head of the Division of
Accounting Operations in the Candler Building, walked over to
the stack, pulled off the top record, and declared it to be the
official first Social Security record. (This was the first point in
the process where there was enough control to designate an
official first card--it would have been impossible to try and
identify the first card typed in one of the 1,074 typing centers
around the country.) This particular record, (055-09-0001)
belonged to John D. Sweeney, Jr., age 23, of New Rochelle,
New York. The next day, newspapers around the country
announced that Sweeney had been issued the first SSN. It
would be more accurate to say that the first Social Security
record was established for John David Sweeney, but since
master records were invisible to the public and the Social
Security card was a very visible token of the program, the
newspapers overlooked the nuance.

And so John David Sweeney, Jr. is the closest thing we have
to the first person to have received a Social Security card--
The Lowest Social Security Number
We do know who received the
Social Security card with the
lowest number, card
001-01-0001. Since the Board
controlled the issuance of the
account numbers to the post
offices, and since they were to be
distributed geographically by area
number, the agency was in a
position to at least control where
the number was issued--and it
tried to control who it was issued

Social Security numbers were
grouped by the first three digits
of the number (called the area
number) and assigned
geographically starting in the
northeast and moving across the
country to the northwest. But if
you look closely at the
distribution pattern you will see
an apparent anomaly. The lowest
area numbers are assigned to
New Hampshire, rather than to
Maine, even though Maine in the
most northeasterly of the states.
This was apparently done so that
SSN 001-01-0001 could be given
to New Hampshire's favorite son,
Social Security Board Chairman
First meeting of the Social Security Board, September
14, 1935. Left to right: Arthur J. Altmeyer, John G.
Winant (Chairman), and Vincent M. Miles. John Winant
turned down the offer of the lowest social security
number, 001-01-0001.
Hilda's New Social Security Number
John G. Winant (the former three-time Governor of New Hampshire). Chairman
Winant declined to have the SSN registered to him. Then it was offered to the Federal
Bureau of Old Age Benefits' Regional Representative of the Boston Region, John
Campbell, who likewise declined. It was finally decided not to offer this SSN as a token
of esteem but instead to issue it to the first applicant from New Hampshire. This proved
to be Grace D. Owen of Concord, New Hampshire, who applied for her number on
November 24, 1936 and was issued the first card typed in Concord, which, because of
the area number scheme, also happened to be the card with the lowest possible number.
Notable Quotes about Taxes
[American tax laws] are constantly changing as our elected representatives seek new
ways to ensure that whatever tax advice we receive is incorrect. — Dave Barry

Bachelors should be heavily taxed. It is not fair that some men should be happier than
others. — Oscar Wilde

The hardest thing in the world to understand is the Income Tax. — Albert Einstein

Unofficial motto of the Internal Revenue Service: “We have what it takes to take what
you have.” — Anonymous

The First Rule of Practicing Tax Law: “If someone has to go to jail, make sure it’s the
client.” — Fred Drasner

If you are truly serious about preparing your child for the future, don’t teach him to
subtract—teach him to deduct. — Fran Lebowitz

Try not to think of it as “your” money. — Apocryphal IRS Agent

If we can tax it, we will. — City Income Tax Form of Middleton, Ohio

Beware of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors . . . and miss. —

I don’t know of a single foreign product that enters this country untaxed, except the
answer to prayer. — Mark Twain

The Rosetta Stone, . . . whose text in hieroglyphics, demotics [sic], and Greek was the
key to revealing the stories of ancient Egypt, was in fact a grant of tax immunity.
Which is why, of course, it was engraved in stone and not written on papyrus. — Alvin

For Further Reading
Social Security:  The World's Largest (Legal) Chain Letter

Social Security Reform and Demographic Reality

65 Years of History Culminate in New Social Security Debate
Ida Fuller, 1910 Census, VT
Submitted by Stan Read
Ida May Fuller, Aunt Ida to her friends and family,
is listed in the 1910 U.S. census of Ludlow, VT.
She was a roomer in the home of her younger
brother Oscar and his wife Florence. Ida was 35
years old and worked as a stenographer in a law
office. I must confess that when I looked at her
countenance, I thought that she looked like a lady
who could make a good apple pie!       
Stan Read