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Social Security: Actually several programs

It's has become fashionable in some political circles to attack Social Security. Criticisms range from, "We can't afford it," to "Recipients are committing fraud in order to receive undeserved benefits." What is the truth about this landmark benefit program that has helped millions of Americans who worked hard and paid into the Social Security system? Who actually receives the benefits?

Social Security is actually several programs. The biggest is the Old Age Pension program for retired workers and dependents. This program currently covers around 45 million people, and is the sole source of income for many retirees. Even more rely on Social Security payments for most of their income. A slim majority of Social Security pension recipients are women. The program also covers minor children of retirees and spouses. Depending on how you calculate it, the cost of this program is around $50 billion annually, or approximately 70% of all Social Security payments. Combined with Medicare, the health insurance program for retirees, it consumes more than one-third of the federal budget.

The next biggest program is Social Security Disability (SSD). SSD is disability insurance for workers (and their dependents) whose illnesses or injuries prevent them from working. In 2012, around 11 million people will receive SSD benefits. The cost of these payments is anticipated to be more than $10 billion and represents around 15 percent of total benefits paid out.

In both instances, recipients have paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes. They must have worked a certain number of years - the number varies according to age when applying. Social Security programs are insurance programs; one must have paid into the system or been the dependent of someone who paid into the system to receive benefits.

People who are having problems with their Social Security Disability claims often consult lawyers or advocates like those at Binder & Binder®, the national Social Security Disability advocates. We help clients obtain the benefits to which they're entitled.

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