Social Security Explained

Authored by Wendy Witt, Esq.

Social Security issues make headlines almost weekly. There is much controversy and fear surrounding Social Security and its continued funding and investment. Most of the focus of the popular press is on Social Security retirement benefits, including monthly cash payments and health insurance (Medicare.)

What is Social Security?

Social Security is a government run insurance plan. So long as you pay into the system, e.g. pay your insurance premiums, you (or your family) will receive benefits when you retire, become disabled, or die.

"Social Security," actually refers to the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. It's more than just retirement benefits and all programs are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

According to the Social Security Administration, in 1945, 41.9 workers supported each individual retiree, while today only 3.3 workers support each retiree. The system cannot continue.

~ Journalist Larry Elder

The social security system is set up to step in and provide financial support when a worker has become too ill or too injured to work. Social security disability payments are not charity; they are a reimbursement of all those social security taxes you've been paying over the years.

Social Security Laws

If you want to go straight to the source, there's no better way to do so than to review the Social Security Act - they are all compiled in one place.

What is the Social Security Administration (SSA)?

The Social Security Administration is part of the federal Government.

It is the part of the administration that handles benefits for retirees, disabled folks, family members (who have lost a loved one), and the poor. If you're into the history of the SSA, feel free to click on the link.

The SSA is funded by tax dollars; specifically, those dollars taken out of your paycheck in FICA taxes aka "payroll taxes".

  • FICA taxes fund Social Security and Medicare.
  • If you are employed, your employer pays half of the FICA tax and you pay half of the FICA tax.
  • If you are self-employed, you pay both the employer and the employee sides of the FICA tax.
  • If you work "under the table", those wages won't help you to qualify for Social Security benefits.

The Social Security Administration Offers 5 Types of Benefits

Not only does the SSA provide for those in need of SSD (disability) benefits, they also provide retirement, family (dependents), survivors, and Medicare benefits.

SSD benefits include monthly payments and Medicare coverage. Oddly, Medicare coverage doesn't start until 2 years after your disability claim has been approved.

Your benefits will continue so long as you remain disabled up to retirement age, when retirement Social Security benefits are available.

  • There are back to work plans that allow you to try to work and maintain your benefits.
    • If you are able to work, great. The benefits continue for a transition period.
    • If you are not able to work much or at all, your SSD benefits will continue and you'll know you tried.
  • You are able to work and earn some income, just not a lot. If you can earn a lot, the SSA says you're not disabled enough to receive disability benefits.

Are you wondering whether you qualify for disability benefits or whether you should consult with a qualified Social Security Disability attorney?

Where Can I Learn More About Social Security and Disability?

Susan did read everything she could so she'd know what questions to ask her disability attorney. She felt so much better after she spoke with her attorney and knew she had a strong advocate on her side then, she could focus on her health and let her attorney handle the legal matters.

If you think you or your loved one may qualify for SSD, be sure to consult with a qualified social security disability attorney. While online information can be extremely helpful, no article or FAQ, including this one, can provide legal advice or apply the law to your individual situation. Good luck with your claim and your health!

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