A decision made by President Reagan. - From TIME
That meant that if future presidents followed his lead, the State of the Union — which was still formally known as the Annual Message, though informal usage of the term "State of the Union address" had begun to spread — would run right up against Inauguration Day.
(One reason the name change stuck, according to Senate historian Donald Ritchie, was Frank Capra's 1948 film State of the Union, which TIME called "mildly entertaining.") In January of 1953, weeks before turning over power to Dwight D.
Jimmy Carter had delivered one right before leaving office, and Reagan instead called his speech an " Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the Program for Economic Recovery ." Though TIME noted that the speech was "what amounts to a State of the Union address," it wasn't one.
For all that history, however, the name of the speech may not matter all that much.
As the Congressional Research Service points out in its analysis of the State of the Union, "scholars consider these speeches to serve the same ceremonial, rhetorical, and political function as a typical State of the Union."