Social Security Administration (SSA): Legal Definition

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a U.S. government entity that administers the programs that provide benefits to retired and disabled Americans. Because the SSA operates outside the control of the president and the executive branch, it is known as an independent agency.

The SSA headquarters is located in Maryland, just outside Baltimore in a suburb called Woodlawn. Employing over 60,000 people, the SSA maintains over 1,200 field offices nationwide.

The History of the SSA and How It Operates

The SSA traces its roots back to the Great Depression and the New Deal. Hoping to stabilize the economy and provide financial security to Americans during their post-working years, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935. The Act established the SSA but gave it no budget and no staff in the beginning.

A year later, the first SSA office opened in Austin, Texas, and a year after that, in 1937, the government began collecting taxes to fund Social Security. The program still receives almost 100 percent of its funding from payroll taxes.

As of 2018, if you are a W-2 employee, you pay 6.2 percent of your income toward Social Security, and your employer pays an additional 6.2 percent on your behalf, on all yearly wages up to $128,400. If you are self-employed, you are responsible for the full 12.4 percent.

The Social Security Programs Administered by the SSA

The SSA administers two Social Security programs. One provides benefits to workers who reach retirement age and to workers who develop disabilities that prevent them from working. The other offers benefits to disabled Americans who have limited financial means.

Social Security Disability Insurance

The first program is the one that comes to mind when most people think of Social Security. It is the one people begin collecting when they are 65. (Actually, you are eligible to start receiving Social Security as young as 62. But you sacrifice part of your monthly benefit if you elect to take it early. Similarly, you can wait until age 70 to declare and receive a higher benefit.)

If a person has sufficient work history and becomes fully disabled before retirement age, they can also start collecting Social Security. This is known as Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI. SSDI has several criteria applicants must meet to qualify for disability benefits.

Supplemental Security Income

The second Social Security program is one that provides benefits to disabled people with a low income and few assets. This program is called Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. To qualify for SSI, you must meet the same disability requirements set by SSDI. You also must have an income and total assets that fall below certain thresholds.

Call 865-566-0800 Today for a Free Case Evaluation With a Social Security Disability Lawyer

If you have questions about Social Security benefits, a Social Security disability lawyer can steer you in the right direction. Call the Disability Advantage Group, today: 865-566-0800. We offer a free case evaluation.