What is Social Security?

Older adults have always had concerns about being able to manage their basic needs when they can no longer work and earn their own living. For much of history, they have been well respected by their families and have even lived with their grown children. The children would provide for their parents' needs. The older people would then have what is called economic security. They would feel safe and know that they would be taken care of.

When the English colonists came to America, they brought with them the idea of helping the poor and needy among them. Their communities took the responsibility. As society became more developed, this responsibility was then passed on to the state.

Following the Civil War in the United States, there were many disabled veterans and widows of veterans who were in need. The United States provided pensions for Union soldiers and their families only. Pensions were fixed amounts of money each month for their living needs.

During the Great Depression of the 1930's, many people had no jobs or way of providing for themselves or their families. In 1932, Franklin Roosevelt became president. He suggested the idea of social insurance. In 1934, he formed the Committee on Economic Security. He asked the committee to devise a plan where a worker would put a little amount of money, a payroll tax, from each paycheck into a fund to be used when he would retire from working. This law was called the Social Security Act and was passed in 1935. It is directed by the Social Security Administration.

Americans may begin to draw out money from Social Security when they reach about the age of 66+. The age has gone up in recent years from 65. A worker may choose to take it a few years earlier at the age of 62, but will receive less income. If a worker doesn't take any of the money until he reaches the age of 70, he will get quite a bit more per month. The amount of money a person receives depends on what he has earned over the highest 35 years of income at their job. There is an upper limit as to how much anyone can get.

Experts have determined that a person needs at least 70-80% of the salary he earned while working to live a similar lifestyle. However, social security benefits usually provide for only about 40% of the amount previously earned. Also, since people are living longer, the total amount of money allotted for the benefits by the federal government is being used up faster than what is coming in from younger people putting in money from wages. The Social Security fund may not last many more years.

Other benefits from the SSA have been added to those of retirement payments. Unemployment benefits are provided for a certain amount of weeks for a person who loses his job due to a layoff or other reason not of his own doing. Also, persons younger than the official retirement age may be qualified to receive disability benefits each month to help them survive since they cannot work. The federal government also provides assistance with food by issuing food stamps to persons with low incomes.

At age 65, each person in the United States also becomes eligible for Medicare. This is medical insurance for the elderly. They pay a premium or fee each month and receive certain medical services or prescriptions under the plan. This program is also under the Social Security Administration.

Every person in America legally has to apply for a social security number. This number is needed for many different reasons. It identifies a person for social security benefits and other benefits. It also is a means for identifying that particular person for paying taxes. The number has 9 digits.

A: Safety
B: Hope
C: Money
D: Benefits

A: 1999
B: 1934
C: 1935
D: 1918

A: Income taxes
B: Disability
C: Medicare
D: Food stamps

A: 55
B: 60
C: 70
D: 65

A: After the Civil War
B: After World War II
C: Before World War I
D: After World War I

A: 6
B: 5
C: 9
D: 8

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