Ida May Fuller

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Ida May Fuller
Born(1874-09-06)September 6, 1874
DiedJanuary 27, 1975(1975-01-27) (aged 100)
Brattleboro, Vermont
Resting placePleasant View Cemetery, Ludlow Village, Vermont
EducationBlack River Academy, Ludlow Village, Vermont
Pernin Institute of Shorthand and Bookkeeping, Boston
Legal secretary
Known forFirst recipient of regular Social Security benefits

Ida May Fuller (September 6, 1874 – January 27, 1975) was a Vermont schoolteacher and legal secretary. She was most notable as the first beneficiary of recurring monthly Social Security payments.

Early life[edit]

Fuller was born at her family's Jewell Brook Road farm in Ludlow, Vermont on September 6, 1874, the daughter of Henry W. Fuller and Laura (Haven) Fuller.[1] Fuller's family traced its American roots to Mayflower passengers Samuel and Edward Fuller, and to Peregrine White, the first child born in America to English parents.[1] She attended school in Ludlow and graduated from Black River Academy, where her contemporaries at the academy included Calvin Coolidge.[1][2] After her graduation, Fuller became a schoolteacher in Ludlow.[3][4] In 1903 and 1904, Fuller was a student in the business college course at the Pernin Institute of Shorthand and Bookkeeping in Boston.[5][a]


In 1905, Fuller became a stenographer, legal secretary, and bookkeeper at the Ludlow law firm of John G. Sargent, William W. Stickney, and Paul A. Chase.[8] During Sargent's service as Vermont Attorney General from 1908 to 1912, Fuller was his legal secretary and stenographer as he traveled throughout the state to carry out the duties of his office.[9][10]

In addition to her career as a legal secretary, Fuller was active in Ludlow's Baptist church, including terms as treasurer for missionary activities and church auditor.[11] Fuller was also involved in civic causes, including serving as treasurer for the Ludlow residents who pledged funds to pay for Chautauqua lecturers to visit the town each summer.[12] She also took part in local business ventures, including the Ludlow Insurance Agency, of which she was an original incorporator.[13]

Fuller worked under Social Security for a little short of three years and paid $24.75 in Social Security tax.[14] She filed her retirement claim on November 4, 1939; while visiting Rutland, she stopped at the regional Social Security office to ask about benefits.[15] She later observed: "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."[15] Her application was transmitted to the Claims Division in Washington, D.C. for adjudication.[15] After approval, it was sent to the Treasury Department.[15] Claims were grouped in batches of 1,000, and a certification list for each batch was sent to Treasury.[15] Fuller's claim was the first one on the first certification list, so the first Social Security check (check number 00-000-001), dated January 31, 1940, was issued to Fuller in the amount of $22.54 (equivalent to $436 in 2021).[15]

Later life[edit]

During her retirement, Fuller collected a total of $22,888.92 in Social Security benefits.[14][15] As monthly payments increased in the 1950s and 1960s, Fuller typically received the first check issued for the new amount, which was usually the subject of news reports.[16] When she received the first check following a September 1965 increase in monthly benefits, it arrived with a letter from President Lyndon Johnson, who also called Fuller to extend good wishes on her birthday.[17]

Fuller never married and had no children.[15] She lived most of her life in Ludlow and spent eight years near the end of her life living with her niece, Hazel Perkins in Brattleboro.[15] Fuller died in Brattleboro on January 27, 1975.[1] She was buried at Pleasant View Cemetery in Ludlow.[18]


  1. ^ The Pernin method was a shorthand style developed by Helen M. Pernin (d. 1905) of Detroit.[6] Schools that taught Pernin shorthand and other business courses were established in many American cities during the late 1800s and early 1900s.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d "First Social Security Beneficiary: Miss Ida Fuller Dead at 100". Brattleboro Reformer. Brattleboro, VT. January 27, 1975. p. 1 – via
  2. ^ Smith, Richard B. (2020). Vermont Firsts and Other Claims to Fame. Charleston, SC: The History Press. pp. 199–200. ISBN 978-1-4671-4619-7 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "Summer School at Putney". Bellows Falls Times. Bellows Falls, VT. August 7, 1897. p. 1 – via
  4. ^ "The Barton School". The Vermont Tribune. Ludlow, VT. February 6, 1900. p. 8 – via
  5. ^ "Personals: Miss Ida Fuller". The Vermont Tribune. Ludlow, VT. July 22, 1904. p. 1 – via
  6. ^ "Shorthand Woman Dead". Detroit, MI. Detroit, MI. September 28, 1905. p. 12 – via
  7. ^ Myers, Harry J., ed. (1909). American College and Private School Directory. Vol. III. Chicago, IL: Educational Aid Society. pp. 158–159, 164 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ "Personals: Miss Ida M. Fuller". The Vermont Tribune. Ludlow, VT. September 20, 1906. p. 5 – via
  9. ^ "Personals: Miss Ida M. Fuller". The Vermont Tribune. Ludlow, VT. December 10, 1908. p. 5 – via
  10. ^ "Ludlow Firm Closes Down". Rutland Herald. Rutland, VT. September 13, 1944. p. 5 – via
  11. ^ "Town Talk". The Vermont Tribune. Ludlow, VT. January 7, 1915. p. 1 – via
  12. ^ "Chautauqua Funds Not So Bad". The Vermont Tribune. Ludlow, VT. April 2, 1926. p. 8 – via
  13. ^ "State House Notes". Montpelier Evening Argus. Montpelier, VT. April 6, 1932. p. 6 – via
  14. ^ a b "Ida May Fuller's Payroll Tax Contributions". Social Security Administration.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The First Social Security Beneficiary". Social Security Administration.
  16. ^ "First to get Social Security 'Raise'". Bennington Banner. Bennington, VT. October 7, 1950. p. 1 – via
  17. ^ "LBJ Send Mrs. Fuller Greetings". Bennington Banner. Bennington, VT. United Press International. September 7, 1965. p. 1 – via
  18. ^ Tucker, Rebecca Woodbury (2000). Cemetery Inscriptions in Ludlow, Vermont. Ludlow, VT: R. W. Tucker. p. 5 – via Google Books.

External links[edit]

Ida May Fuller at Find a Grave