Social Security Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Social Security, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Social Security?

“Federal program established to supply social benefits such as retirement, disability, and survivors benefits.

History and Meaning of Social Security

Social Security is a federal program in the United States established in 1935. Its main purpose is to provide financial assistance to eligible individuals who have retired or became disabled, as well as to surviving family members of deceased beneficiaries. The program is financed through payroll taxes paid by employees, matched by employers.

The Social Security Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression as a way to provide economic security and prevent poverty for workers and their families. The program also includes benefits for specific populations such as children, widows and widowers, and individuals with low income.

Examples of Social Security

  1. John is retiring at the age of 65 and will begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits.
  2. Sarah’s husband passed away and she is eligible to receive Social Security survivor benefits to help support her family.
  3. Michael became disabled and will receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to help cover his living expenses.

Legal Terms Similar to Social Security

  1. Medicare - a federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure with dialysis or a transplant).
  2. Medicaid - a joint federal and state program that helps with healthcare costs for people with limited income and resources.
  3. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) - a federal program that provides financial assistance to disabled adults, children, and elderly individuals with limited income and resources.