Supplemental Security Income
Social Security Retirement Benefits
Social Security was enacted in 1935 to provide some relief to America’s destitute older citizens during the economic cataclysm known as the Great Depression. A direct descendant of that more limited effort, today’s Social Security program is in fact a group of related programs, each with its own eligibility and payment rules: retirement, disability, survivors and dependents benefits.
The best known of these programs is retirement, known formally as Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI). Under this program, Social Security provides income to retirees, as well as benefits to a worker’s surviving spouse and to a retired worker’s children under age 18.
Social Security benefits are financed primarily through dedicated payroll taxes paid by workers and their employers. Employees and employers split the 15.30 percent payroll tax equally, with employers paying 7.65 percent of an employee’s income, and the employee kicking in the same. Self-employed individuals pay the entire 15.30 percent payroll tax.
For most retired workers and their dependents, however, Social Security retirement benefits alone are not enough for them to maintain the standard of living they had before retirement.