Where do Social Security Funds Come From?

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

Social Security benefits stand as a crucial lifeline for millions of Americans. These benefits provide essential support in times of disability, retirement, or loss of a loved one. But, have you ever wondered where these funds come from? Understanding the source of Social Security funds is not only important for beneficiaries, but also for those navigating the complex terrain of disability benefits. Here, we will delve into the origins of Social Security funds and shed light on a system that impacts the lives of many.

The Origins of Social Security Funding

At its core, Social Security operates as a pay-as-you-go system. Meaning that current workers contribute to the benefits received by current retirees and other beneficiaries. The primary source of funding for Social Security comes from payroll taxes, which are collected under the Federal insurance Contributions Act (FICA). These taxes are automatically deducted from employees’ paychecks and matched by contributions from their employers.

The FICA tax is comprised of two components: The Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) tax and the Medicare tax. The OASDI tax specifically funds Social Security Benefits, including disability benefits. The OASDI tax rate is adjusted annually.

It is essential to note that, while payroll taxes serve as the primary source of funding for Social Security, they are not the sole contributor. Interest earned on the Social Security Trust Fund’s investments also plays a role. The Trust Fund holds the surplus of Social Security taxes not immediately needed to pay benefits and invests them in special-issue treasury securities. These investments generate interest income, which helps to bolster the overall funding of the program.

Moreover, the taxation of Social Security benefits provide another source of revenue. Some beneficiaries may be required to pay federal income tax on a portion of their Social Security benefits, depending on their total income. These taxes contribute to the overall funding of the program, albeit to a lesser extent. Government appropriations can also supplement Social Security funding in certain circumstances. While Social Security is primarily a self-funded program, there have been instances where general revenue has been allocated to ensure the program’s solvency, particularly during times of economic downturn or demographic shifts.

Why This Matters

Understanding the intricacies of Social Security funding is particularly pertinent for individuals seeking disability benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides crucial support for individuals who are unable to work due to a qualifying disability. To qualify for SSDI benefits, applicants must have worked and paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes for a certain number of years, depending on their age at the time of disability onset. Therefore, a clear comprehension of how Social Security funds are generated underscores the importance of SSDI eligibility criteria and the application process.

Contact a Disability Benefits Attorney to Discuss Your Case Today

The Social Security disability benefits system can be difficult to understand, let alone navigate. Our team at Disability Advocates Group is here to help those in need access critical benefits. Reach out to our office today for assistance.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.