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  • Writer's pictureMarc Primo

Social Security In A Nutshell

Updated: Mar 19, 2020

The following is an article “Social Security In A Nutshell”

by Marc Primo.

Most people often hear the words ‘social security’ for the first time the day they receive their very first paycheck, because only then does it become relevant to them.

What is social security?

As defined in Wikipedia, social security is "any government system that provides monetary assistance to people with an inadequate or no income." In the United States, Canada, and other Western nations, social security is commonly referred to as ‘welfare’, and both are basically one and the same.

So why is social security necessary? When we start getting paid by employers, our earnings and deductions are typically detailed in a pay slip that shows us exactly where our hard-earned money is going. Depending on your job grade and immigration status, deductions typically include income tax, dependents’ health insurance, and social security.

Social security in the U.S.

While young workers might frown on these deductions, particularly the 6.2 percent of their earnings (12.4 percent for the self-employed) for social security which to them seems unnecessary with no instant gratification, we develop a better appreciation of how it actually serves as a safety net for us as we grow old and experience some of life’s harsh realities, such as becoming unemployed due to redundancies or poor job market conditions.

In Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is asserted that “everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.”

So what exactly happens when that time comes and you need to benefit from the social security contributions you have made over the years?

Getting the most out of social security

Like with all things that involve money, it is your responsibility to exercise due diligence and know exactly what you are entitled to, what the requirements needed to make an application are, and who you should be talking and listening to. In this digital day and age, the process is somewhat simpler than it used to be, so a good place to start would be to log in to Social Security Online, or visit your nearest Social Security office.

Aside from your Social Security card, other supporting documents needed to make a claim typically include your birth certificate and tax forms from the previous year, so make sure you have those prepared to expedite the process rather than waste time due to incomplete applications.

In cases where you have dependents that are eligible to receive benefits through you, bring their birth certificates and Social Security cards as well. Remember, social security is not just about paying retired people a monthly income. It also provides insurance for the differently-abled, the unemployed, and families who have lost their sole breadwinner due to injury or death.

It is a sad reality of life that any of these can happen to anyone at any given moment. That said, it is always best to be prepared so that eventually, you might find some solace in the assistance and support that social security has to offer.


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