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Social Security Benefits and Life Insurance Supplements

The Basic Tenets of Social Security

Social security is an idea that has been enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights under Article 22. It basically states that the society where people live should be able to help them to progress and take advantage of what the country has to offer.

It also refers to the action programs established by the government with the end of promoting the general welfare of the population. This is done through measures that guarantee people access to resources like food and shelter and promote health and wellbeing, with a focus on vulnerable segments like the elderly, the unemployed, the children and the sick. In the United States, social security refers more to the specific social insurance plan for the disabled and the retired.

Social security in the United States pertains to the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance federal program. The original Social Security Act enacted in 1935, and its current version, offers several social welfare and insurance programs. Funding for Social Security comes from dedicated payroll taxes referred to as the FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) tax. These deposits are entrusted to several funds of the Social Security Trust Fund - the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund, the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund, the Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, or the Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund.

The United States Social Security program is the largest government subsidized program in the world based on dollars paid. It is also the single biggest expenditure in the federal budget. In the year 2003, Social Security spending accounted for 37% of government expenditure. It is estimated that Social Security has successfully kept over 40% of Americans over 65 out of poverty. Moves to privatize Social Security figured in debates during the Clinton and W. Bush presidencies.


The Security Administration monitors a worker’s career and his earnings. The worker’s monthly benefit entitlement is based upon his earnings record and upon what age he chooses to retire and begin receiving benefits. Current spouses are eligible for spousal benefits while divorced spouses are generally eligible if the marriage lasts for a minimum of 10 years.

A worker may be able to generate benefits for up to five of his/her spouses provided that each must be in succession after a divorce for each after a ten-year marriage, which in effect is not possible as marriage in teenage years is not recognized.

The death of a worker with Social Security results to their surviving spouse receiving benefits. There are certain instances where survivors’ benefits are made available even to a divorced spouse. The earliest age for surviving spousal benefit is 60 years old. There is a reduction of benefits if it commences before the retiree’s normal retirement age. The children of a deceased, disabled or retired worker will receive benefits as a dependent until the age of 26.


A worker who has met the Social Security eligibility requirements are entitled to disability benefits. The benefits kick in after five calendar months of the disability regardless of the worker’s age. The eligibility to receive benefits is based on a number of credits that are based on earnings. These credits must have been earned overall and over a designated length of time. The provisions are more lenient for younger members who become disabled before they were able to accumulate a long earning history.

To be eligible for disability benefits, the worker must not have the ability to continue their previous job and is unable to work elsewhere, taking to account their work experience, age and, education. The disability must be long-term meaning it should last for a minimum of 12 months, result to death or expected to result to death in the near future. For disability benefit, as with retirement benefit, the value of the benefit is based on the worker’s record of covered earnings and the worker’s age.

Social Security and Pensions

Social Security is oftentimes likened to company sponsored pensions. But Social Security is viewed more as an insurance plan rather than a retirement plan. Unlike pensions, Social Security covers disability. Pensions accumulate the money that is paid into it.

While Social Security is sometimes compared to private pensions, the two systems are different on many aspects. Unlike a pension, Social Security pays disability benefits and acts more of an insurance than a retirement plant.