Chances are, you’ve used your Social Security number as a form of identification on several occasions. It is necessary when applying for a driver’s license, a fishing license, and even a credit card. Social Security also appears as a form of tax on paychecks. But what is the real purpose of the number? And what exactly is Social Security? Many people go their entire lives without ever finding the answers to these questions. Others may not learn about the Social Security program until they are elderly, retired, or injured.
For starters, Social Security is a type of insurance program that offers a form of financial security for Americans who are retired, disabled, widowed over the age of 60, widows over the age of 60, or immediate family of such a person. Another name for Social Security is the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance(OASDI) program.
When a person meets the requirements set out by the Social Security Act they can begin to receive a monthly check from the government. Roughly 61 million Americans collect Social Security benefits each month. Those benefits are largely paid for via taxes. Social Security taxes are taken from the paychecks of close to 169 million Americans each pay period. Social Security is considered a “pay-as-you-go” program rather than a pre-funded program.
The History Of Social Security
Though similar systems have been used throughout history, the official Social Security Act was first signed into law in America by Franklin Roosevelt in 1935. The program at the time was more limited than our existing system. Benefits were paid primarily to retired workers over the age of 65 who were no longer receiving retirement. It was an important step in the right direction, but many people felt underwhelmed by the coverage it offered.
The early advocates of the act were hoping for a program that would offer protection against the hazards of life, not just retirement. Unfortunately, the existing Social Security act did not offer benefits to disabled parties. The program would undergo several changes over the decades before becoming what it is today.
In 1939, new categories were added for beneficiaries. The two categories were the spouse and the minor child of a retired worker. In 1954, the disability program was added to the Social Security Act and in 1965, Medicare health benefits were added.
The program is managed by the Social Security Administration. The major programs managed by this administration include TANF, SCHIP, Supplemental Security Income(SSI), Medicare, and Medicaid.
Many people benefit from one or more of these programs. For example, SSI provides needs-based income support for blind, disabled, or aged applicants. The benefits paid by the SSI program are taken from the revenue of the country. More than 8 million people in the country rely on SSI.
What About Social Security Numbers?
A Social Security Number(SSN) is assigned to every U.S. Citizen, permanent resident, and working resident in the country. Every SSN is nine digits and over the years it has become the ideal form of identification. Albeit, the SSN was originally created specifically for the Social Security Program. It is such an important number that a person can assume another person’s identity simply by having their SSN.
A central office in the SSA is responsible for assigning Social Security numbers. There have been a few rare cases where duplicate numbers are assigned, but these instances occurred before the SSA took over the job of assigning the numbers. Originally, cards without numbers were sent to Post Offices or local SSA offices. The cards were then number on-location. This led to a few discrepancies and errors.
Various personal records are indexed using this number. These records can include credit reports, student records, patient records, and employee records. And a person who does not know their Social Security number would find it impossible to receive a line of credit or find legitimate employment. The number is also used as an identification number in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard.
However, not every American is required to be a part of the Social Security program and thus may not have an SSN. Certain religious organizations that object to the program and that existed prior to 1951 were able to opt out of the program entirely. This meant that they were not issued an SSN and were not able to receive benefits. The number is still required for them to claim children as dependents. The Old Order Amish is well known for fighting the Social Security system on many occasions.
A Brief History Of The SSN
The first numbers were issued alongside the founding of the program in 1935. A total of 25 million Social Security numbers were issued within the first three months after the act was signed. It would still be some time before official cards with the numbers were issued to participants.
Roughly one year later in November 1936, more than 1,000 post offices across the country became typing centers. They were tasked with typing the numbers onto Social Security cards and then sending those cards to Washington DC. The very first person to be assigned a Social Security number and a card was John David Sweeney, Jr.
The process of receiving a number was very different than it was today. Most people did not receive a number until they were around the age of 14 because the numbers were used to track income. People younger than 14 often did not work so there was no need to track their income.
The Tax Reform Act led to a major change in how numbers were assigned. Parents were now required to list the SSN of any children they were claiming as dependents on their federal taxes. This meant that children above the age of five were required to have an SSN to be claimed. That age was lowered over the following years to 12 months old in 1990. Thus, parents began applying for SSN for their children immediately after birth.
A Part Of American History
The Social Security Act and the Social Security number are an important part of American history. They are also an important part of life today. Protecting your SSN and your identity with it should be a top priority. If you ever are unable to locate your card contact www.applicationfiling.com/social-security-card.