How Good is the Social Security System in the USA?


The Social Security System in the United States refers to the country’s welfare program. As with other countries, America funds the program through income taxes, which people pay in relation to their Social Security number.

Considering it’s the richest country in the world, how good is Social Security in the USA? Read on to find out the key facts you’ll need.

What is Social Security?

The formal name for Social Security in the US is the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program (OASDI). It was first signed into law in 1935 and is overseen by the Social Security Administration. Social Security in the US is by far the biggest mandatory expense in the budget. In 2019, it cost more than $1 trillion!

The 3 broad categories are retired people, disabled people, and survivors. But, within these categories are further distinctions. These include:

The spouses of retired people.
Divorced spouses of any category.
Disabled spouses (divorced/together)
Widows caring for children.

There are many more categories, but the point is that people
may be eligible under one or more of the broad groups.

What Does Social Security in the USA Do?

In short, Social Security pays you money for various reasons. There are other benefits included, but these depend on your category.

The easiest example to use is retired people. During your working life in the country, you pay into Social Security through employment tax. Then, when you reach retirement, you can begin collecting your payments. These cover you for living expenses and other things, but essentially work in place of your monthly wages.

How Does Social Security Work?

The Social Security system in America is fairly easy to understand. Of course, it can get very complicated once you start getting in deeper, but the basic process is:

  1. You work during the standard working age in the country.
  2. You pay payroll taxes on your earnings. The Inland Revenue Service collects these and pays them into a trust fund.
  3. When you need Social Security benefits, you can collect them (providing you’ve applied and met the eligibility criteria).

It doesn’t make much difference, but it’s worth noting that you won’t receive the money you pay in. Typically, the money you pay funds the current generation collecting benefits, while your money will come from the generation after you.

Social Security Benefits

There are a lot of benefits attached to this program, and all benefits allow recipients to work and offer support for you to be self-sufficient. The Social Security system benefits are broken down into four areas:

  • Retirement
  • Early Retirement
  • Disability
  • Survivors

Each has its own guidelines that cover: Retirement Ages, Qualifying for Benefits, Wage, Limits while Working, and Employment Support.

What most people don’t know is that Social Security has a support system to help you work with no risk of losing your benefits. Much of this information can be found in the Redbook or by calling the SS Administration directly.

Living on Social Security System in the USA is designed to educate you in an easy and understandable format. The goal is to give you all the information necessary to not only assist you with the guidelines but also to enable you to get the most out of programs and discounts specifically offered to seniors and the disabled.

Here are some brief guidelines covering different benefits:


SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) is a federal Social Security disability insurance program designed for individuals who have worked enough to earn sufficient work credits. In this type of benefit, the monthly payments are usually based on the individual’s earning record, which is available through the Social Security Administration.


SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is another federal financial assistance program that provides payments to individuals on a monthly basis who have either never been a worker or have insufficient work credits on their earnings record to qualify for SSDI. Individuals in this situation are typically expected to have assets and financial resources that do not exceed $2,000.

Some people may qualify to receive both SSI and SSDI. It’s on a case-by-case basis, but just know that Social Security Disability Income and Supplemental Social Security Income are meant for people with disabilities.


Social Security Retirement is for people who retire at age 65 or take early retirement starting at age 62. The amount of social security you receive will depend on how much income you have made over your work history.


Social Security Survivors is another type of benefit meant for the widows or widowers caring for their children that are below the age of 16 or are disabled, or children younger than 18.

Social Security in the USA can also be paid to adopted children, step-grandchildren, grandchildren, or stepchildren. The amount of social security income is based on the income history of the individual precisely the spouse. Always take time to review the benefits and know what is best for you before starting your application.

Knowing your Social Security Benefits

There are too many specific categories to cover them all here. The above information doesn’t even go into things like Medicare and housing support. As such, you probably still have some questions, including:

– How do I get approved for SSI, SSDI?

– How to retire early

– What are retirement ages?

– When do I qualify for Medicare and Medicaid?

– What are the social security guidelines?

– Can I work?

– Can I lose my benefits?

Both Green Card holders and citizens can be eligible for Social Security in the USA. Green Card holders must have 40 credits to receive benefits. This is typically equivalent to 10 years of work in the USA.

When it comes to knowing your specific eligibility, the easiest thing to do is use the Social Security calculator on the government’s website. You’ll need your Social Security number, but it can at least give you good estimates of what you can receive.

Of course, if you’re currently applying for a Green Card, you won’t have this information. Generally, you shouldn’t need Social Security benefits as soon as you move to the United States unless you’re retired and your US-based family is sponsoring you.

Knowing your eligibility in these situations can be difficult. But the US Green Card Office can help. Reach out if you have any questions about Social Security in the USA for migrants and we’ll do everything we can to give you answers.


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