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Administration on Aging (AoA)

Historical Evolution of Programs for Older Americans


The Civil Service Retirement Act provided a retirement system for many governmental employees.


The Social Security Act passed; provides for Old Age Assistance and Old Age Survivors Insurance.


Railroad Retirement Act provided pensions for retiredrailroad employees and spouses.


President Truman initiated the first National Conference on Aging, sponsored by the Federal Security Agency.


First federal funds appropriated for social service programs for older persons under the Social Security Act.


Special Staff on Aging established within the Office of the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, to coordinate responsibilities for aging.

Federal Council on Aging created by President Eisenhower.


Legislation introduced in Congress, calling for a White House Conference on Aging.


Housing act authorized a direct loan program for non-profit rental projects, for the elderly at low interests rates, and lowered eligibility ages for public-low-rent housing, for low-income women to age 62.


Social Security Administration eliminated age 50 as minimum for qualifying for disability benefits, and liberalized the retirement test and the requirement for fully insured status.


First White House Conference on Aging held in Washington, D.C.

Social Security Amendments lowered the retirement age for men from 65 to 62, liberalized the retirement test, and increased minimum benefits and benefits to aged widows.


Legislation introduced in Congress, to establish an independent and permanent Commission on Aging.


Older Americans Act signed into law on July 14 1965. It established the Administration on Aging within the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, and called for the creation of State Units on Aging.

William Bechill named first Commissioner on Aging

Medicare, Title XVIII, a health insurance program for the elderly was established as part of the Social Security Act.

Medicaid, Title XIX, a health insurance program for low-income persons, was added to the Social Security Act.


Older Americans Act extended for two years, and provisions made for the Administration on Aging to study the personnel needs in the aging field.

Age Discrimination Act signed into law.

Administration on Aging moved from the Office of the Secretary of HEW and placed in the newly created Social and Rehabilitative Service Agency within the Department.


John Martin named Commissioner on Aging


Older Americans Act Amendments provided grants for model demonstration projects, Foster Grandparents, and Retired Senior Volunteer Programs.


Second White House Conference on Aging held in Washington, D.C.


A new Title VII is created under the Older Americans Act authorizing funds for a national nutrition program for the elderly.


Older Americans Act Comprehensive Services Amendments established Area Agencies on Aging. The amendments added a new Title V, which authorized grants to local community agencies for multi-purpose senior centers, and created the Community Service Employment grant program for low-income persons age 55 and older, administered by the Department of Labor.

Arthur S. Flemming named Commissioner on Aging

Comprehensive Employment and Training Act was enacted; included older persons.


Title XX of the Social Security Amendments authorized grants to states for social services. These programs included protective services, homemaker services, transportation services, adult day care services, training for employment, information and referral, nutrition assistance, and health support.

Older Americans Act amendments added transportation under Title III model projects.

Housing and Community Development Act enacted; provided for low-income housing for the elderly and handicapped, pursuant to the Housing Act of 1937.

National Institute on Aging created to conduct research and training related to the aging process, and the diseases and problems of an aging population.

Title V of the Farm and Rural Housing Program of 1949 expanded to include the rural elderly as a target group.


Older Americans Act Amendments authorized grants under Title III to Indian tribal organizations. Transportation, home care, legal services, and home renovation/repair were mandated as priority services.


Older Americans Act Amendments required changes in Title VII nutrition program, primarily related to the availability of surplus commodities through the Department of Agriculture.


Older Americans Act Amendments consolidated the Title III Area Agency on Aging administration and social services, the Title VII nutrition services, and the Title V multi-purpose senior centers, into a new Title III and added a new Title VI for grants to Indian Tribal Organizations. The old Title V became the Community Service Employment grant program for low-income persons, age 55 and older (created under the 1978 amendments as Title IX).

Robert G. Benedict named Commissioner on Aging

Congregate Housing Services Act authorized contracts with local public housing agencies and non-profit corporations, to provide congregate independent living service programs.

OAA amendments required each state to establish a long-term care ombudsman program to cover nursing homes


Third White House Conference on Aging held in Washington, D.C.

Lennie-Marie Tolliver named Commissioner on Aging

Older Americans Act reauthorized; emphasized supportive services to help older persons remain independent in the community.

Act expanded ombudsman coverage to board and care homes


Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act clarified and reaffirmed the roles of State and Area Agencies on Aging in coordinating community-based services, and in maintaining accountability for the funding of national priority services (legal, access, & in-home).

Carol Fraser Fisk named Commissioner on Aging


Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act provides for nursing home reform in the areas of nurse aide training, survey and certification procedures, pre-admission screening an annual reviews for persons with mental illness.

Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act added six additional distinct authorization of appropriations for services: in-home services for the frail elderly; long-term care ombudsman; assistance for special needs; health education and promotion; prevention of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation; and outreach activities for persons who may be eligible for benefits under supplemental security income (SSI), Medicaid, and food stamps. Additional emphasis was given to serving those in the greatest economic and social need, including low-income minorities.

The Nursing Home Reform Act (Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) mandated that nursing facility residents have “direct and immediate access to ombudspersons when protection and advocacy services become necessary.” Simultaneously, the OAA reauthorization charged states to guarantee ombudsman access to facilities and patient records, provided important legal protections, authorized state ombudsmen to designate local ombudsman programs and required that ombudsman programs have adequate legal counsel.


Joyce Berry named Commissioner on Aging


Americans with Disabilities Act extended protection from discrimination in employment and public accommodations to persons with disabilities.

Cranston-Gonzalez National Affordable Housing Act reauthorized the HUD Section, 202 Elderly Housing program, and provided for supportive service demonstration programs.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act made it illegal, in most circumstances, for companies to discriminate against older workers in employee benefits.


Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act places increased focus on caregivers, intergenerational programs, protection of elder rights and calls for a 1995 White House Conference on Aging.

The elevation of Commissioner on Aging to Assistant Secretary for Aging.

OAA amendments added a new Title VII “Vulnerable Elder Rights Activities” which included the long-term care ombudsman; prevention of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation; elder rights and legal assistance development; and benefits outreach, counseling and assistance programs. The legislation emphasized the value of the four programs coordinating their efforts. The amendments highlighted the role of local ombudsman programs and the state ombudsman’s role as leader of the statewide program and advocate and agent for systemwide change.


Fernando M. Torres-Gil was sworn in as the first Assistant Secretary for Aging in the Department of Health and Human Services on May 6, 1993.


White House Conference on Aging convened May 2–5, 1995 in Washington, D.C.

30th Anniversaries of Older Americans Act, Medicare, Medicaid & the Foster Grandparent Program.

60th Anniversary of Social Security

Operation Restore Trust Initiated


Jeanette C. Takamura, Ph.D., was sworn in as Assistant Secretary for Aging in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on December 8, 1997.


International Year of Older Persons: A Society for All Ages


Older Americans Act Amendments of 2000 signed into law (P.L. 106-501), establishing the new National Family Caregiver Support Program, and reauthorizing the OAA for 5 years on November 13, 2000.


HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson released $113 million for first National Family Caregiver Support Programs grants to states on February 15, 2001.

Josefina G. Carbonell sworn in as Assistant Secretary for Aging on August 8, 2001.


Kick off of 30th Anniversary of the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program in March.


Enactment of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act (MMA)


5th White House Conference on Aging was held in Washington, D.C.


Medicare Part D Prescription Drug program (part of MMA) went into effect

Enactment of the Lifespan Respite Care Act (administered by AoA)

Older Americans Act Amendments of 2006 signed into law (P.L. 109-365), embedding the principles of consumer information for long-term care planning, evidence based prevention programs, and self-directed community based services to older individuals at risk of institutionalization. OAA was reauthorized for 5 years on October 17, 2006.


Kathy Greenlee appointed by President Obama as 4th Assistant Secretary for Aging


Enactment of the Affordable Care Act


First of the nation’s baby boomers turn 65


Administration for Community Living established on April 18, 2012, bringing together the Administration on Aging, the Office on Disability and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities.


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Last Modified: 7/6/2015