(DailyTreasure.com) – Originally formed in 1935, the Social Security Administration (SSA) plays a critical role in the distribution of welfare benefits to millions of United States citizens. The main purpose of the administration is to promote economic stability to our country’s elderly citizens as well as to those with disabilities.
The three main programs offered by the Social Security Administration include:
- Social Security Retirement, also known as the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI)
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Each program has a set of unique components with similar goals: to ensure our country’s most vulnerable populations are supported and able to experience economic security and stability.
Social Security Retirement
Commonly referred to as Social Security or Social Security Retirement, this program has also been known as the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) program. American workers contribute to the fund over time via taxes deducted from their payroll or through their self-employment taxes throughout the entirety of their working years.
Upon reaching full retirement age, which is currently 67 for those born in 1960 or after, the Social Security Administration will look at the 35 years where the retiree earned the highest salary, with additional adjustments made in consideration of inflation. Workers can claim early retirement, but doing so will cause a reduction in monthly benefits.
As of February 2023, the average retirement income check from social security is approximately $1,693. There are ways to optimize your retirement benefits by focusing on earning more during your working years. It’s also important to note that while it offers a great foundation, Social Security Retirement benefits aren’t designed to fully support an individual in retirement. It is expected that the average American worker will also have additional retirement savings, personal savings, investment funds, and possibly even pension plans to draw from.
Social Security Disability Insurance
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, as its name implies, supports those who are no longer able to work due to a disability. The program ensures beneficiaries receive health benefits as well as cash payments they can use for their living costs and any related medical expenses.
It isn’t as easy to qualify for SSDI as many seem to think. Those who apply have to meet very strict criteria for what the government defines as a “medically determinable disability.” The disability must be projected to last for at least a year and/or result in the applicant’s death and must bar them from obtaining gainful employment.
Social Security Disability Insurance pays out based on a work credit system. Individuals earn up to 4 credits per year of work. To qualify for SSDI, a worker must have at least 40 credits, and at least 20 of those credits must have been earned within the most recent 10 years. There are few exceptions, but younger workers who haven’t had enough time to earn the minimum number of credits may still qualify for benefits.
So far in 2023, the average SSDI check is approximately $1,483 per month, but there is potential to receive up to the maximum of $3,627. A worker’s received amount can vary greatly depending on your state of residence, work credit, and established income.
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based assistance program designed to support those with very limited income levels, those who are blind, or those who are disabled. The idea is to help them meet their basic needs and most who receive SSI also qualify for other programs, like SNAP food assistance or housing assistance. A key difference between this and SSDI is that those who receive SSI typically have not worked enough to qualify for other assistance programs, if they’ve worked at all.
While SSI requirements vary by the states administering benefits, most consider all income when determining eligibility amounts. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, employment wages, pensions, money in bank accounts, cash on hand, and other types of assets. Guidelines will also typically consider a person’s living arrangements, how many others are in the same household, and whether or not the others in the household are children or seniors.
Any change in a person’s income, whether up or down, can impact the monthly payment amount. While it’s important to report increases in income to avoid having to pay money back, decreases or new deductions can also increase the allowed amount and should be reported regularly as well. As of January 2023, the maximum SSI for an individual is $914 and the maximum for a couple is $1,371.
While vastly different in purpose, the SSA’s three main programs are a reflection of the United States government’s commitment to ensuring the financial well-being of citizens in vulnerable phases of life. Each is designed to provide care and protect the dignity of the recipients.
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