Reconciliation: Reshaping the Social Security program for the future

Final report. December 10, 1938
J. Douglas Brown
Social Security Talk, Correspondence
J. Douglas Brown

The legislation that is Brown’s legacy has benefited over 70 million people.

The recommendations of the Advisory Council on Social Security, chaired by Brown, brought significant changes to the structure of the Social Security Act through the development of what is now the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. The council’s intensive studies from May 1937 to December 1938 revealed that payments could begin in 1940, two years earlier than expected. Brown drafted the recommendations and supporting text at the Industrial Relations Section and worked with Princeton University Press and The New York Times to rapidly publish the report.

Brown was a founding member of the Industrial Relations Research Association (IRRA) and served on its board with Ewan Clague, Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as its president. Founded in 1947 for labor and employment relations professionals to network, and to share research interests, best practices, and new ideas, the IRRA remains active today under the name of the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA).

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Social Security Act, fellow residents of his senior living community presented a signed scroll to recognize Brown as the Act’s leading pioneer. Issued for the occasion, the Postmaster General and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services presented Brown with a commemorative stamp at the Social Security Administration headquarters in Baltimore. Brown died on January 19, 1986 at age 87.