News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 12, 2012

Social Security: Aug. 12, 2012: Social Security celebrating 77 years

Brian Hewitt
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — This month Social Security, the most successful domestic program in our nation’s history, celebrates its 77th anniversary.

On Aug. 14, 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. With one pen stroke he laid the foundation of modern American social policy. Today, millions of retirees live in dignity thanks to their monthly Social Security benefit payment. Over the decades, Social Security expanded to not only protect against the risk of poverty in old age, but also the economic risk of career-ending disability and the premature death of a worker.

From a local historical perspective, the Terre Haute Social Security office celebrated its 75th anniversary this past June. The office officially opened for business June 12, 1937. Terre Haute was the fourth city in Indiana to have a Social Security office, preceded by Indianapolis, South Bend and Evansville. There are presently 1,300 Social Security Administration field offices across the United States, with 26 in Indiana alone.

The Terre Haute SSA office was originally in the Merchants National Bank building at Wabash Avenue and Sixth Street and had only five employees. The office was later moved to 637 Cherry St., then to the Meadows Shopping Center on South 25th Street. In May 2003, we moved to our current location at 222 Cherry St. The office currently has a staff of 22 people.

Previous office managers included J. Snyder, Gary Eason, Charles “Chuck” Shutt and Russell Howard.

The Terre Haute office services a six- county area (Vigo, Sullivan, Parke, Clay, Vermillion in Indiana and Clark County in Illinois). More than 42,000 people in our area receive Social Security benefits, with benefit payments exceeding $45 million per month.

Over the years, new and unique ways of handling our business have been introduced as our beneficiary population and the complexity of the work has increased. For example, virtually all Social Security business can be handled by telephone.

In addition, the Internet has proven to be an invaluable option for those who wish to conduct their business online. For example, you can file for retirement, disability or Medicare benefits online. In addition, you can change your address, update direct deposit information or request a replacement Medicare card at our website. These are just a few of the many things that you can do by using our online services, and we encourage you to explore the possibilities.

Even though the program has changed many times over the last 77 years, our mission has not. We exist to serve you.

For more information about the history of Social Security, go online at or check out our full website located at