Social Security is a program created by the Social Security Act of 1935 to provide old age, survivors’, and disability insurance benefits to workers and their families in the United States. 42 U.S.C.A. sections 301 et seq. The program is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), an independent federal agency. Unlike welfare, which is financial assistance given to persons who qualify on the basis of need, Social Security benefits are paid to individuals on the basis of their employment record and the amount they contributed to Social Security during their employment careers. In 1965 Social Security was expanded to include health insurance benefits under the Medicare program. 42 U.S.C.A. sections 1395 et seq.
As a more general term, “social security” refers to any plan designed to protect society from the instability caused to workers and their families by the unemployment or death of a wage earner. Statistics show that unemployment will affect at least 4 percent of U.S. workers each year. But it is impossible to know in advance which workers will lose their jobs. A government-run plan of social insurance helps spread the risk of unemployment among all members of society so that no single family will be completely ruined by the interruption of incoming wages.