Social Security Primer

Source: Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R42035, Updated February 7, 2019

Social Security provides monthly cash benefits to retired or disabled workers and their family members, and to the family members of deceased workers. Among the beneficiary population, almost 83% are retired or disabled workers; family members of retired, disabled, or deceased workers make up the remainder. In December 2018, approximately 62.9 million beneficiaries received a total of $84.4 billion in benefit payments for the month; the average monthly benefit was $1,342. Workers become eligible for Social Security benefits for themselves and their family members by working in Social Security-covered employment. An estimated 94% of workers in paid employment or self-employment are covered, and their earnings are subject to the Social Security payroll tax. Employers and employees each pay 6.2% of covered earnings, up to an annual limit on taxable earnings ($132,900 in 2019). ….

…. This report provides an overview of Social Security financing and benefits under current law. Specifically, the report covers the origins and a brief history of the program; Social Security financing and the status of the trust funds; how Social Security benefits are computed; the types of Social Security benefits available toworkersand their family members; the basic eligibility requirements for each type of benefit; the scheduled increase in the Social Security retirement age; and the federal income taxation of Social Security benefits. ….