Work & Money

Five Things You Didn’t Know about Social Security

Get ready to celebrate the 85th anniversary of Social Security on August 14th!. Since its inception in 1935, it has become a robust, multifaceted, and exceptional program. When President F.D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, its purpose was simply to “give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against a poverty-ridden old age.” That “measure of protection” was to be expanded by the worker’s own savings. In 1956, benefits were provided to disabled workers aged 50-64 and disabled adult children. The eligibility age for men to receive benefits was lowered to 62.

Five Facts about Social Security

Fact One: When you apply for Medicare you call the Social Security Administration (SSA), because in 1965 SSA became responsible for administering Medicare, the “new” health insurance program. 

Fact Two: As of 1972, SSA became responsible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) covering widows and widowers, the needy aged, disabled, and blind. The acronym for Social Security’s benefits is OASDI: Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance. These cover about 90% of U.S. wage earners including non-citizen workers (12-2019):

  • 48.1 million retirees and dependents 
  • 9.7 million disabled workers and dependents 
  • 6 million widows and widowers.  The average age of a widow is 59. A deceased worker’s children under age 20, parents and ex-spouses may also receive benefits. Learn more here.

Fact Three: By 1950, domestic workers in private homes were covered by SS. If you set the hours and tasks for the housekeeper, babysitter, gardener, cook, et al. you are an employer and should withhold SS taxes. Learn more here.

Fact Four: Up to 85% of your SS benefit may be taxed if your income exceeds $35,000 as a single or $44,000 as a couple, according to the SSA.  So, if you plan to work in your sixties, don’t take your SS benefits until after your Full Retirement Age (FRA) because for every $2 you earn over $18,240 (in 2020), your SS benefit will be reduced by $1.  FRA for those born 1943 to 1954 is 66; those born after 1960 it’s 67. Taking benefits at 62 reduces your benefit by 25% to 30% but waiting to age 70 increases your benefit by 8% a year.  Read the background here.

Fact Five: If you were married for ten years, then divorced and are now single, you can collect benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record.

Action steps

Are you eligible for more benefits than you are aware of?  Find out by answering the questions at On that same page click on the link to create a MySocialSecurity account so that you can see your statements and take care of things like address changes. 

Will Social Security run out of money?

Many people facing retirement are concerned about this possibility because 50% of married couples and 70% of unmarried persons receive 50% or more of their income from Social Security according to the SSA. The 2020 report (here) from the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees states that the OAS Trust Fund (Old Age Survivors) would be able to pay scheduled benefits up to 2035 when the reserves run out, and thereafter, 79% of scheduled benefits would be paid.

Can this forecast be improved? Yes. As beneficiaries and citizens, you can encourage and support intelligent policy proposals.  Dozens of approaches are continually discussed, varied, and combined. A few are detailed here.


In all 50 states, Penelope S. Tzougros is registered with, and securities and advisory services are offered through, LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC. Penelope Tzougros and LPL Financial do not offer tax advice. As tax law may change at any time, please consult your tax advisor prior to taking any action.  Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. 

Your use of any financial advice is at your sole discretion and risk. and Older Adults Technology Services makes no claim or promise of any result or success.

Photo: Thought Catalogue for UnSplash


3 responses to “Five Things You Didn’t Know about Social Security

  1. Great article “The Five Things You Didn’t Know About Social Security” with the basic information making it understandable and easy to follow. Kep up the great information.

    I too would like to receive an email of the video recording How To Get The Most From Your Social Security

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