What is Social Security?
Social Security is a federal law that was
enacted to protect workers and their dependents from the loss of
income because of retirement, death or disability. All employees
fund the Social Security system through payroll deductions. This
is the Social Security (FICA) tax deduction that you see on the
pay stub. To qualify for Social Security benefits, an employee
must earn credits based on the income they have paid into the
system covered by the Social Security tax.
The number of credits needed to receive
Social Security depends on your birthday, age, and date of
retirement or disability, or for survivor's benefits, the age of
the worker who died. The amount of income you need to accumulate
for Social Security credits changes each year.
Full retirement benefits begin at age 65.
The standard retirement age will gradually increase until it
reaches age 67 in the year 2027. You can order a free report
from the government, which will list the income reported under a
worker's name, and estimate the future Social Security benefits
based on the age of expected retirement. To order such a report,
call Social Security at 800-772-1213.
What type of basic federal programs are
available to provide financial assistance to disabled persons?
There are two basic federal programs that
provide financial assistance:
Social Security Disability Insurance
Benefits, which are called "SSD" and Social Security Income,
which is called "SSI".
SSD benefits will be paid to a disabled
worker and his or her family if the worker has earned credit for
a certain number of pay credits under Social Security standards
and if the workers earnings are lost or reduced due to the
worker's disability. Persons are considered disabled if they
have a physical or mental impairment which prevents them from
working, and that disability is expected to last for at least
twelve months or, to result in
Under SSD a worker is allowed to earn up to
the "substantial, gainful activity level". The dollar value of
the subsidies and disability work expenses are subtracted from
the gross earnings in determining whether work is "substantial,
Social Security will not automatically
terminate SSD benefits if your earnings exceed the maximum
allowance, but the amount of the excess earnings will reduce
your monthly Social Security Disability check. The Social
Security Disability Program also offers a "trial work" program
to test the ability of disabled persons to return to work
without losing benefits. In most cases, the trial work period is
limited to nine months, and is accumulated over your lifetime.
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