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Social Security Q&A

Why contribute to Social Security that will not be around when 30-year-old retires?

And there are easier questions answered by SSA's Oscar Garcia that apply to benefits, which are a lot more important to most senior citizens

Aug. 1, 2013 – In this week’s Social Security Q&A a thirty-year-old wants to know why he should be made to contribute to a plan that is not going to be there when he reaches retirement age. And, a happy contributor to the system wants to know if his benefits will be penalized because his wife does not contribute to the system. Oscar Garcia, public affairs specialist with the Social Security Administration has answers for them all.


As a thirty year-old, I just cannot see the value in paying Social Security taxes. I could invest the Social Security taxes I pay into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) plan or some other investment, and do much better. Why do I have to contribute to a system that is not going to be there when I need it?


For one thing, Social Security coverage is mandatory. 

Secondly, maybe you could do better, but then again, maybe your investments will not work out.  

Remember these facts. Your Social Security taxes pay for potential disability and survivors benefits as well as for retirement benefits. Social Security incorporates social goals such as giving more protection to families and to low income workers that are not part of private pension plans. Plus, Social Security benefits are adjusted yearly for increases in the cost-of-living which is a feature not present in many private plans.

Many people view Social Security as only a retirement program, but there is much more to it. When it comes to the need for disability and survivors benefits, Social Security is there for those who qualify.

Dependent survivors of wage earners, such as spouses and minor children may be eligible for survivor benefits when the family’s provider dies. The sad fact is that about one in eight of today’s 20 year-old workers will die before reaching age 67. The good news is about 96 percent of people age 20 to 49 who work have survivors insurance protection if they die and leave behind young children and surviving spouses.

Social Security is here to help people inflicted with disabling conditions as well. In fact, disabled workers account for about 19 percent of all Social Security benefits paid. One in four of today’s 20 year-old workers will become disabled before reaching age 67.

So while Social Security coverage is mandatory, it can provide important benefits for young workers as well as retired individuals.


Will Social Security lower my benefit if my spouse receives a pension based on work not covered by Social Security? She works with the school district and does not pay into Social Security.  I have always paid into Social Security.


If your Social Security benefit is based on your own covered earnings, then a pension your spouse receives based on non-covered work will not affect your payment amount. Your Social Security retirement will not be affected when she begins receiving her pension from Teacher Retirement.

On the other hand, the pension she is eligible to receive from her employer will affect her entitlement to Social Security benefits. Even if you begin receiving your deceased spouse's non-covered pension in the future, it will not affect Social Security benefits based on your earnings.


Related Archived Stories


Senior Wants to Know Why Social Security is So Interested in Our Marriage History When We Apply

Another senior needs to show proof of his income from SSA and wants to know if this is available online.

June 12, 2013

Social Security Specialist Answers Questions About Benefits, Explains Latest Trustees Report

An interesting one today - do family members qualify on your record for Social Security benefits only when you die? - June 7, 2013

How to Fix a Hole in Social Security Work History; Must You Buy Medicare Part A Hospital Insurance?

As more open ‘my Social Security’ accounts there are certain to be more questions for SSA to answer in this weekly Q&A - May 29, 2013

Should You Take Social Security Retirement Early? Here's Answer From IRS Specialist

Q&A also looks at what happens if you take early retirement and then earn more income than is allowed - May 20, 2013

Read more Social Security News

also check Medicare and Senior Politics



If I cash an IRA, do you consider it when figuring my Medicare Part B and Part D income-related monthly adjustments?


If you cashed an IRA two years ago, it may increase your premiums this year.  That is because we generally use tax returns from two years ago to figure premiums for the current year. If your premiums increased last year because you cashed an IRA two years before, your premium could decrease in the current year. For more information, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visit your local Social Security office.


Can my 16 and 17 year old children get benefits on my record if I start receiving benefits?


When you qualify for Social Security retirement benefits, your unmarried children also may qualify to receive benefits on your record. Eligible children can be your biological child, adopted child or stepchild. A dependent grandchild also may qualify.

To receive benefits, your unmarried child must be younger than age 18; between 18-19 years old, but in elementary or secondary school full time.  A full-time student  is in a grade no higher than grade 12. The child can qualify if they are age 18 or older and severely disabled (the disability must have started before age 22).

Each child may receive a monthly payment up to one-half of your full retirement benefit amount.  However, there is a limit to the amount paid to you and your family. The limit varies, but is generally equal to about 150 to 180 percent of your retirement benefit.


I get Social Security because of a disability. How often will my case be reviewed to determine if I’m still eligible?


How often we review your medical condition depends on how severe it is and the likelihood it will improve. Your award notice tells you when you can expect your first review using the following terminology. 

Medical improvement expected is when your condition is expected to improve within a specific time. Your first review will be six to 18 months after you started getting disability benefits. Medical improvement possible is when improvement in your medical condition is possible. Your case will be reviewed about every three years. Medical improvement not expected means your medical condition is unlikely to improve, and your case will be reviewed about once every five to seven years.

Oscar Garcia is a Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration. You can direct your questions to him at: SSA, 411 Richland Hills Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78245. You can also email him at


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