Social Security Law
Social security is designed, as the
title suggests, to provide security. To protect individuals from unforeseen
catastrophes, the government spreads certain risks among all members of
society so that no single family bears the full burden of such occurrences.
In the United States, the Social Security Program was created in 1935
to provide old age, survivors, and disability insurance benefits to workers
and their families. Unlike welfare, social security benefits are paid
to an individual or his or her family at least in part on the basis of
that person's employment record and prior contributions to the system.
The program is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA)
and since 1965 it has included health insurance benefits under the Medicare
program. While the original act used Social Security in a broad sense
and included federally funded welfare programs and unemployment compensation
within its scope, current usage associates the phrase with old age, survivors,
and disability insurance.
The Federal Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) pays out monthly
benefits to retired people, to families whose wage earner has died, and to workers
unemployed due to sickness or accident. Workers qualify for its protection by
having been employed for a minimum amount of time and by having made contributions
to the program. Once an individual has qualified for protection, certain other
family members are, as well. Financial need is not a requirement.
While the Social Security Act (federal law) governs an applicant's right
to benefits, state substantive law governs some of the family relationship
issues that may bear on that right such as the validity of a marriage.