In Memory of Stanford G. Ross
September 9, 2020
Stanford G. Ross (1931-2020), Chair of the Social Security Advisory Board from 1997 to 2002, had a long and distinguished career as an attorney and government official. He was Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (1978-1980), Public Trustee of Social Security and Medicare (1991-1995), and Founding Member, former Director, and President of the National Academy of Social Insurance. (Read the Academy’s tribute).
During Stan’s tenure as the first confirmed Social Security Advisory Board Chair, the Board issued reports recommending improvements in fundamental areas of program administration, including Social Security’s service to the public, stewardship of public resources, and policy research. The Board also issued several reports describing ways to improve the disability programs and options to achieve long-term balance of social security system finances.
Stan was a firm believer in getting out into the field and touching all parts of the agency. During the preparation of the Board’s major report, How the Social Security Administration Can Improve Its Service to the Public, Ross led visits to a dozen Social Security field offices in nine of the ten administrative regions. Stan also instituted the practice of holding public hearings during these field visits to solicit the views of public officials, experts, advocacy groups, and individuals on how Social Security could improve its service to the public.
In 1998, Stan wrote to the Treasury Secretary, the Managing Trustee of the Social Security Trustees, to suggest the Board assume responsibility for appointing Technical Panels to periodically examine the assumptions and methods used to generate annual projections of Social Security finances. Stan oversaw the Board’s first appointment of such a panel in 1999, a practice the Board continued over the next 20 years.
Kim Hildred, Chair of the Social Security Advisory Board, commented,
Stan was a champion of Social Security and the Social Security Advisory Board. His leadership was instrumental to the Board’s substantive work during his time as chair. The impacts of Stan’s vision continue to this day through the Board’s appointment of Technical Panels to review the assumptions and methods used to develop the annual report of the Social Security Trustees. He will be deeply missed.”