What Is Social Security

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ביטוח לאומי is a government-financed program that helps people with little or no income to survive. It provides monthly payments to people who meet certain requirements.

The data show that growth in State pension expenditure per recipient was strongest during 2009 and 2012. It then declined in 2013 and 2014. Social protection needs to include instruments subsidized for the poorest that provide a mix of guaranteed minimum insurance and consumption smoothing. These instruments should be decoupled from payroll taxes.


SSA provides benefits to help people who need them. We pay disability insurance to people who can’t work because of a medical condition or injury. We also provide retirement benefits to workers who have paid into the system. And we offer aid to children and spouses of deceased workers.

You can find out more about the benefits you’re eligible to receive by visiting our Benefits Overview page. Or check out our FAQs page for answers to frequently asked questions about specific Social Security programs.

We offer many employee-only benefits to help you save money for retirement, including the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), a tax-deferred investment and savings program similar to 401(k). And we have a Flexible Spending Account program to help employees pay for out-of-pocket health care expenses and dependent child care with pre-tax dollars.

In addition to our cash programs, we offer Medicare coverage to most State and local government employees who are covered by a Section 218 agreement. And we have a special program to give State and local government employees temporary disability insurance while their application for federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is being processed.

In addition to these programs, we help thousands of California families through the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit. If you are one of these recipients, you can fill out your return electronically and receive a confirmation number through our My Social Security Account.


If you work in a job covered by Social Security and have enough work credits, you can qualify for retirement, disability and death benefits. Your family members may also qualify for benefits based on your record, depending on their age and whether they have a medical condition that prevents them from working (or expected to prevent them from working for a year or more).

Most people receive their Social Security payments by direct deposit. You can ask for this if you apply at a local Social Security office or contact your state agency to request it. If you do not want to use direct deposit, you can receive your checks by mail or have someone drop them off for you.

Social Security beneficiaries can have a small amount of non-exempt resources, such as a home, one vehicle, furniture and household goods. However, the amount of these items cannot exceed $3,000. Other income and resources are not counted in determining eligibility for SSI. For example, the first $65 of earned income per month is disregarded in SSI calculations and interest and dividends on unspent education assistance under Title IV of the Higher Education Act or the Bureau of Indian Affairs are excluded from resources as well. If you are a student, this means that your earnings from summer jobs or other types of employment are not counted if they are spent on educational expenses.


In most cases, Social Security payments aren’t taxable. However, some recipients may be required to pay income tax if they have substantial income in addition to their benefits. For example, if a worker’s other sources of income total more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of their Social Security benefits may be taxable.

Most employees pay taxes on their wages through salary tax withholding, a deduction from their paychecks to make advance payments of their income taxes. In addition, many workers pay federal and state personal income taxes on their earnings.

A part of your lump-sum distribution is taxable and is shown on the bottom of your annual Statement of Benefits (ET-7355) under “Employee Required Contributions.” The remainder of your lump-sum distribution isn’t taxable because it includes the after-tax contributions you made to your WRS account and any interest earned on those after-tax contributions.

Some lump-sum distributions are taxable in the year of receipt, such as those for deaths or terminal illness. Others are taxable only in the year you separate from service or reach age 55. You can avoid the 10% early distribution tax if you roll over your distribution to an individual retirement account or other qualified plan. You can also elect to have no tax withheld on a one-time lump-sum payment.


If you disagree with a decision made about your benefits, you can ask to have the decision reconsidered. If you still disagree, you can appeal the decision to a hearing officer. Not all decisions can be appealed, and you may not want to make an appeal for certain types of decisions, such as those about eligibility or the amount of assistance you are getting.

If the agency decides to grant your request, you will receive a notice with the date, time and place of your hearing. The notice will also tell you if your case can be heard by telephone. You can appear in person at your hearing or you can be represented by a friend or relative. If you are disabled and cannot travel, the hearing officer can arrange a telephone hearing for you. If you choose to be represented, you must provide medical documentation that supports your need for representation.

If you do not agree with the decision of the Social Welfare Appeals Office, you can file a petition for review in the High Court. You can get more information about this from your Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Appeals Office. You must request an appeal and request a hearing within 21 days of receiving the decision letter. You can request a hearing by writing to the Appeals Office or by using the online form available at Appeal and Request for Hearing English version or Appeal and Request for Hearing Spanish version.

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