Each year, the Robert M. Ball Award is presented to an individual whose recent work has made a significant impact on the U.S. social insurance system.

Selection Criteria:

    • Innovation in changing, educating about or otherwise furthering public understanding and informed policy-making in a specific area of social insurance
    • Effectiveness in deepening public understanding, fostering collaboration, informing policy, implementing policy, or teaching others about social insurance

The award honors Robert M. Ball, who served as Commissioner of Social Security from 1962 to 1973, and was an important participant in every Social Security development of the past 60 years. As the Founding Chair of the National Academy of Social Insurance (the Academy), he continued to serve as an unofficial advisor to many policymakers while also writing and advising on Social Security, Medicare, national health insurance, and welfare.

The Award was created in June 2003 at the celebration of Bob Ball’s 90th birthday. The award is presented at a gala reception each year.

To date, recipients include:

  • 2021: Robert Greenstein, Founder and President Emeritus of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; and Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA). The 2021 award was presented at a hybrid ceremony on November 9, 2021.
  • 2020: Jacob Hacker, Director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies and Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale University; and Virginia Reno, former Deputy Commissioner for Retirement and Disability Policy at the Social Security Administration. The 2020 award was presented at a virtual Award Ceremony on October 13, 2020 as part of the 2020 Ball Award: Campaign for Social Insurance.
  • 2019: Carroll Estes, Policy Advocate and Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of California, San Francisco; and Theodore (Ted) Marmor, Political Scientist and Professor Emeritus, Yale University School of Management and Department of Political Science, and Faculty Fellow, Institution for Social and Policy Studies. The 2019 award was presented at a dinner banquet on June 27, 2019.
  • 2018: Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works and chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition; and Stuart Altman, Sol C. Chaikin Professor of National Health Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. The 2018 award was presented at a dinner banquet on June 27, 2018.
  • 2016: William Spriggs, Chief Economist to the AFL-CIO and Professor of Economics at Howard University. The 2016 award was presented at a dinner banquet on June 21, 2016.
  • 2015: Karen Davis, Eugene and Mildred Lipitz Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management and Director of the Roger C. Lipitz Center for Integrated Health Care, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University. View a video of her acceptance speech.
  • 2014: Marilyn Moon, Institute Fellow, American Institutes for Research (AIR). Watch a video of her acceptance speech.
  • 2013: Alice M. Rivlin, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies and the Center for Health Policy, Brookings Institution (Died in 2019)
  • 2012: Robert D. Reischauer, Distinguished Institute Fellow, President Emeritus, Urban Institute
  • 2010: John C. Rother, President and CEO, National Coalition on Health Care
  • 2009: Alicia H. Munnell, Director, Center for Retirement Research, Boston College
  • 2008: Peter A. Diamond, Institute Professor Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2007: Henry Aaron, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
  • 2006: Monroe Berkowitz, Professor of Economics, Rutgers University (Died in 2009)
  • 2005: Bruce C. Vladeck, Senior Advisor, Greater New York Hospital Association
  • 2004: Stephen C. Goss, Chief Actuary, Social Security Administration