What is the Social Security Retirement and Disability Program?

November 10th, 2011

From its inception in 1935, Social Security has been an insurance program.  The Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Disability Insurance Trust Fund from which benefits are paid are funded by payroll taxes and interest paid on investments in securities backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.

Only benefits and administrative expenses can be paid out of the trust funds. Although the income and outgo from these funds are carried in the president’s budget, none of the money can be used for other government programs.

From the beginning of the Social Security program, an individual worker or self-employed person has had an individual account on which his/her Social Security benefit amount is or will be calculated.  This is the basic concept of the insurance principle on which the program was established

Every year the trustees of the Social Security trust funds are required to issue a report on the status of the funds and their projections for the future.  The trustees are the secretaries of treasury, labor, and health and human services, the commissioner of Social Security, and two lay members.  Future projections are developed by actuaries and economists.

The basic structure of Social Security as an insurance program remains strong. Public attention needs to be focused on making this program stronger and assuring future generations of beneficiaries that it will be there when they need it.  Contact our office if you have any questions regarding Social Security Disability Benefits or Supplemental Security Income benefits.


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