Ball, Robert M. 1914-2008 (Bob Ball, Robert Ball, Robert Myers Ball)

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Ball, Robert M. 1914-2008 (Bob Ball, Robert Ball, Robert Myers Ball)


See index for CA sketch: Born March 28, 1914, in New York, NY; died of congestive heart failure, January 29, 2008, in Bowie, MD. Government official, organization executive, and author. Ball spent the first thirty-plus years of his career fighting to protect the retirement benefits of the American people. He worked for the Social Security Administration from 1939 to 1973, serving as national commissioner of social security from 1962 to 1973. Then, as a retiree himself, he collaborated with the experts who were working to keep the struggling benefit program afloat. He is remembered for his role in the creation of the Medicare program, which continues to attempt to support the health needs of America's aging population through times of economic prosperity and hardship alike. Ball's views on social security were not without critics; as a government official himself, Ball was adamantly opposed to privatization of the program. He also opposed proposals that retirement benefits should be granted only to the needy, excluding individuals who had paid into the program for decades but were self-sufficient in retirement. Even his critics, however, acknowledged his expertise and dedication to his mission. In retirement, Ball served as a senior scholar at the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences until 1980. He later founded and chaired the National Academy of Social Insurance in 1986. Ball's dedication to the well-being of elderly Americans earned him many awards, including the Clarence A. Kulp Award of the American Society of Risk and Insurance, the Cruikshank Award of the National Council of Senior Citizens, and the Maxwell A. Pollack Award for Productive Living from the Gerontological Society of America; he was inducted into the Health Care Hall of Fame in 1999. Ball was also the author of several books, including Social Security: Today and Tomorrow (1978), Reflections on Implementing Medicare: Implementation Aspects of National Health Care Reform (1993), Straight Talk about Social Security: An Analysis of the Issues in the Current Debate (1998), and Insuring the Essentials: Bob Ball on Social Security; A Selection of Articles and Essays from 1942 through 2000 (2000).



Berkowitz, Edward D., Robert Ball and the Politics of Social Security, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, WI), 2003.


Chicago Tribune, January 31, 2008, sec. 2, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2008, p. B6.

New York Times, February 1, 2008, p. C10.