The Social Security Dog Tag
The publisher William Randolph Heart was a sworn enemy of President Roosevelt and his New Deal plan to help get America out of the Depression. All of the newspapers in Hearst chain were expected to regularly publish unfavorable stories about Roosevelt's New Deal plan. On the eve of the 1936 presidential election Hearst tried to undermine support for Social Security with the allegation that the recipient's would be required to wear "Dog Tags"with their Social Security numbers and be required to fill out questionnaires asking personal information. Neither allegation were true, but the "Dog Tag" story did have a basis in fact.
When considering ways to assign Social Security numbers, one proposal was to issue nameplates, not unlike military "Dog Tags". The commisioner of Social Security vetoed the idea as soon as he heard it. This didn't stop Hearst's newspapers from publishing the story. During the early dicussion of the "Dog Tag" idea, one company eager to do more business with the government (the Addressograph Corp, makers of "Dog Tag" machines) went so far as to have a sample made for Commisioner Atlmeyer with his name and sample number. Altmeyer kept the sample in his desk drawer during his career with SSA, and donated it to SSA after his retirement, it is the one and only "Social Security Dog Tag" ever issued and is now on display in the History of SSA headquarters in Baltimore.