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2018 Robert M. Ball Award

Nancy J. Altman received the 2018 Robert M. Ball Award for Outstanding Contributions in Social Insurance on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. Ms. Altman is deeply committed to social insurance and is widely recognized for her contributions as an advocate for Social Security. Ms. Altman is currently the president of Social Security Works and chair of the Strengthen Social Security coalition. She is a Founding Board Member of the Academy, and she recently completed two terms on the Academy’s Board of Directors.

“Robert Ball himself once wrote of Nancy: ‘Her intelligence and objectivity…and her expertise have served the nation well,’” said William Arnone, Chief Executive Officer of the National Academy of Social Insurance.

Social Security and private pensions have been the focus of Altman’s career for over 40 years. Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi appointed Altman to a six-year term, starting October 1, 2017, on the Social Security Advisory Board. The seven-person Board is a bipartisan, independent federal government agency established in 1994 to advise the President, Congress, and the Commissioner of Social Security.  

After receiving her A.B. at Harvard University and J.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, Ms. Altman handled private pensions as a tax lawyer with Covington & Burling LLP in the mid-1970s. From 1977 to 1981, she was a legislative assistant to Senator John C. Danforth (R-MO) and advised the Senator with respect to Social Security issues. Ms. Altman was Alan Greenspan’s assistant while he was Chairman of the 1983 bipartisan commission, which produced the 1983 Social Security amendments. From 1983 to 1989, she was a faculty member at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government where she taught courses on Social Security and private pensions. 

“Nancy Altman’s scholarship, government service, and political advocacy embody Bob Ball’s lifelong commitment to social insurance as a vehicle for advancing the economic security of the American people,” said Eric Kingson, a Founding Board Member of the Academy and Professor of Social Work at Syracuse University. “In his tradition, Nancy has emerged as the leading voice in efforts to maintain Social Security as a progressive, vibrant and just institution. I can think of no contemporary more deserving of the Robert M. Ball Award. I’m sure Bob would agree!”

Ms. Altman is the author of ​The Truth About Social Security: The Founders' Words Refute Revisionist History, Zombie Lies, and Common Misunderstandings (forthcoming, Strong Arm Press, 2018) and The Battle for Social Security: From FDR’s Vision to Bush’s Gamble (John Wiley & Sons, 2005)​. She is the co-author, with Eric R. Kingson, of Social Security Works! Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All (The New Press, 2015). She has made media appearances discussing Social Security on PBS Newshour, Fox News, MSNBC, and NPR.

Ms. Altman chairs the Board of Directors of the Pension Rights Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of beneficiary rights. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Retired Americans Educational Fund and the Economic Opportunity Institute.