Follow Ida May’s example

Published 7:12 pm Friday, July 16, 2021

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By Lizna Odhwani

One day in 1939, Ida May Fuller stopped by the local Social Security office in her hometown of Rutland, Vermont, to inquire about Social Security benefits. She knew she had been paying into Social Security, and wanted to learn more.

The following year, she received the very first Social Security benefit payment — $22.54 — arriving as check number 00-000-001. Ida’s story still holds lessons for women today — and it started with her getting the information she needed.

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Today, signing up for a personal my Social Security account at can help you get information tailored for you to plan for your retirement. It’s never too late to start planning. Ida was 65 years old when she started receiving benefit payments, but she lived well beyond her life expectancy of 65 years, four months. In fact, Ida lived to be 100 years old, and received Social Security benefit payments for 35 years.

It’s important to create your personal my Social Security account as soon as possible. With your account, you can view estimates of future benefits, verify your earnings and view the estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid. Verifying earnings is important because your future benefit is based on your earnings history.

Your Social Security benefit payments will provide only a portion of your pre-retirement income. You may have to save more to have adequate income for your desired lifestyle in retirement.

Savings need to be an active part of your plan to take care of yourself and your family’s financial future. Ida never married. She supported herself. However, you may find yourself widowed or divorced — and having to provide for yourself for several more years. Unlike in Ida’s day, you can go online at to see if you’re eligible to receive a current, deceased, or former spouse’s benefits. It might make financial sense to claim those benefits instead of your own — since the payments could be higher based on the individual’s own earnings history.

You can follow Ida’s example and plan for your financial future. Please share this information with your friends and family — and help spread the word on social media.


Lizna Odhwani is Social Security public affairs specialist in Virginia. Contact her at