Social Security was created during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency in 1935. It was initially meant to provide a government-supervised pension for retired individuals unable to earn a living working any longer. Social Security is supported by contributions from workers in the form of payroll taxes which, later recovered in a series of monthly payments.
Almost all salaried and hourly employees in the United States are automatically enrolled in Social Security and are taxed according to their earnings levels from their paychecks. Their employers also finance a portion of their benefits in the form of payroll taxes.
All Social Security benefit programs in the United States are under the jurisdiction of the Social Security Administration, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, supervised by a cabinet-level secretary in the executive branch of the U.S. government.
The Social Security administration not only handles retirement benefits, but it is also responsible for benefits paid to dependents and Social Security disability or supplemental income.
Workers begin paying into Social Security when they are first employed. While various programs have varying eligibility requirements, there is no longer any age restriction for joining the Social Security program. Obtaining benefits requires an application before the national retirement age of 65. For most people, their Social Security retirement benefits become available automatically and require minimal paperwork to access. Any citizen with a social security number is eligible for one or more of these programs.
Like most federal programs, the Social Security Administration maintains numerous offices across the United States. Even if an applicant can’t access the proper paperwork online or at their local library or post office, they always have the option of visiting their nearest Social Security office and speaking with someone who likely has the most up-to-date information on whatever program is at issue.
For people who have the means, the Social Security Administration also maintains a comprehensive web site filled with resources and information covering a wide variety of questions individuals might have about their benefits and eligibility.
As always, the best place to start looking for information regarding Social Security benefits is the United States Social Security Administration. The primary web site has a directory of local offices. Another excellent resource for applicants is to contact your local bar association and obtain a referral to an attorney with experience in pursuing Social Security disability benefits. They are among the most knowledgeable people about the various programs available.