January 30, 2008
I am deeply saddened to report that Bob Ball died late last night at the age of 93.
No individual has done more to advance American social insurance programs than Robert M. Ball. He led the Social Security program for more than twenty years and he has been it’s most influential and articulate advocate, architect, and philosopher.
From his early appointment in a field office to his selection as Commissioner of Social Security by President Kennedy in 1962, to advisory roles in following presidential administrations, Bob Ball sought a balance between political pragmatism and his determination to protect the principles of social insurance.
He also played a crucial role in the origins of Medicare and then successfully carried out the ambitious task of implementing the program. His unique ability to persuade policymakers to put aside partisanship for the sake of posterity will be remembered and missed.
Those of us fortunate enough to have worked with Bob have been blessed with a unique privilege. We experienced first hand his dedication to the social security program, his determination to protect, preserve and improve it, his genius in melding policy and politics, his remarkable ability to persuade others of the wisdom of his proposals, and his ability to lead. No other individual combined these qualities so effectively as Bob. We have lost a giant. We must carry on his work as a continual memorial to him.
As part of his long-term commitment to social insurance, Bob Ball founded the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) in 1986. It is in his legacy that NASI will continue the work of safeguarding the programs.