Every month, close to sixty million people earn the traditional social security benefits. ‘Traditional’ in this case refers to the monies earned by eligible retired workers, a close relative of a deceased worker, and a long-term disabled worker. Just to give you a clear picture, of the sixty million beneficiaries, close to twenty million survive as a result of their social security benefits. What you might overlook, however, is that many more people are covered under this program. In addition to the sixty million people who earn these social security benefits every month, close to about 175 million workers are offered protection by this program.
According to data from the Social Security Administration, 90 percent of the current American workforce stands to benefit from long-term disability protection while 96 percent of workers aged between 20 and 49 years have already put in place survivors insurance protection for their young children and spouses. It is, however, important to note that social security benefits are not afforded to all people. Just being a citizen does not automatically guarantee that you qualify to earn this protection. For instance, you will have to earn yourself over forty work credits to guarantee yourself social protection benefits.
Even though nine out of ten people in the US stand to receive social security benefits, some groups as highlighted below, will not.
1. Infrequent workers
A common reason why people do not receive social security benefits for retired workers is simply that they did not earn forty work credits. Some people choose to stop working after a while, and whatever their reason might be, failing to earn forty work credits can disqualify you from earning the benefits.
2. Late-arriving Immigrants
Immigration into the country is an important component in ensuring the success of social security. Migrants are, oftentimes, young. This means that they will spend many years in the workforce, thus contributing to the program via tax. Early legal migrants, therefore, earn social security benefits once they retire. The same cannot be applied to migrants who arrived while old. Legal migrants in their sixties and seventies may not have the physical capacity to accrue forty credits.
3. Undocumented Immigrants
Irrespective of what you might have heard, illegal immigrants do not earn social security benefits. What you might have thought of is Supplemental Security Income. While the SSI is administered by the SSA, it is funded in a different manner. SSI is often paid to refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants who have been admitted for permanent residence lawfully. Please note that SSI payments are not similar to Social Security Benefits. Interestingly though, the illegal immigrants do contribute to social security’s success. Some illegal immigrants might use a friend’s Social Security Number to earn wages, from which tax will be deducted. A recent study, conducted by the New American Economy, showed that illegal immigrants paid 13.3 billion US dollars in form of taxes in 2016. These workers will not receive anything for their money’s worth.
4. Non-covered Employees
There is a group of workers who might have worked enough to earn more than forty credits that are required to earn social security benefits, but they will never earn a dime in form of social security. Non-covered staff members, such as local government and state employees, have pension plans already put in place in their states and respective countries. The pension plan substitutes any social security benefits that should have been received if they were part of the covered workers population. According to the SSA, close to 170,000 Americans do not receive benefits since they were non-covered employees.
The fact that not all people will make it to the age of 62 is a reason why not all workers earn social security benefits. Sixty-two is the magic age: at this point, retired workers can start earning some benefits. In some cases, employees decide to claim their benefits at a later stage than 62 but pass on, unfortunately, before they earn a dime from the program. This is the greatest risk in social security: nobody knows when he or she will die.
In conclusion, if you are earning some social security benefits, please note that you form part of the majority, but this is not guaranteed for all people.
Written by Garrett Parker
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