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Social Security Law

Social security is designed to protect individuals from unforeseen catastrophes, the government spreads certain risks among all members of society so that no single family bears the full burden of such occurrences. The Social Security Program was created to provide old age, survivors, and disability insurance benefits to workers and their families.

The Federal Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program pays out monthly benefits to retired people, to families whose earner has died, and to workers unemployed due to sickness or accident. Workers qualify for such protection by having been employed for the mandatory minimum amount of time and by having made contributions to Social Security. There is no financial need requirement to be satisfied. Once a worker qualifies for protection, his family isalso entitled to protection. The entire program is geared toward helping families as a matter of social policy.

The OASDI program is funded by payroll taxes levied on employees and their employers and on the self-employed. The tax is imposed upon the employee’s taxable income, up to a maximum taxable amount, with the employer contributing an equal amount. The self-employed person contributes twice the amount levied on an employee.

Old Age Benefits. A person becomes eligible for Social Security old age benefits by working a minimum number of calendar quarters. The number of quarters required for full insurance increases with the worker’s age. Forty quarters is the maximum requirement. The individual is credited for income up to the maximum amount of money covered by Social Security for those years. This amount is adjusted to reflect the impact of inflation on normal earnings and ensure that a worker who pays increasing Social Security contributions during his or her work life will receive retirement benefits that keep pace with inflation. To qualify for benefits later in life, you have to pay into the system, usually through working ten years or more.

Even those who haven’t worked a full ten years may be entitled to Social Security benefits in certain situations. Social Security can also provide benefits for those who are disabled or the dependents and survivors of a deceased worker.

Disability Benefits. Workers who have paid into Social Security and become disabled before retiring may be able to collect Social Security disability insurance benefits. Social Security has a strict definition of disability. You must be unable to work in your previous occupation, unable to perform any new work, and unable to work for at least a year. You’ll want to know your disability onset date, how to prove your disability, and whether certain impairments are covered.

Survivors’ Benefits. Survivors’ benefits are paid to family members or surviving spouse when a worker dies. Survivors can receive benefits if the deceased worker was employed and contributed to Social Security long enough for someone his or her age to qualify for Social Security.

About the author

Thomas Elliott

Education: Brooklyn Law School, Brooklyn, New York. Pace University, White Plains, New York.
Professional Associations and Memberships: American Bar Association, New York State Bar, The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Brooklyn Bar Association, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).

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