Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 2 » Federal Agencies on Aging - Social Security Administration, Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services, National Institute On Aging, Employment And Training Administration - Administration on Aging

Federal Agencies on Aging - Social Security Administration

ssa program oasdi agency

The Social Security Administration (SSA), an independent agency, administers the largest titles of the Social Security Act, the largest social program in America. The formal name for what is often termed "Social Security" is the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability program (OASDI). Benefits under the OASDI program go to 27 million retired workers, 3 million spouses, 5 million widows and widowers, 2 million children of deceased workers, and 450,000 children of retired workers. OASDI expenditures in 2000 totaled $407 billion. This is the largest single expenditure of the U.S. government. SSA also administers Supplemental Security Income, a smaller program for low-income elderly, blind, and disabled individuals that expended $32 billion in 2000. Unlike OASDI, under which individuals receive benefits related to how much they earned while they were working, SSI beneficiaries receive benefits based on having very low incomes, regardless of their work history. It is because of this difference that OASDI is a "social insurance" program and SSI is a "public assistance" program.

SSA was separated from the Department of Health and Human Services in 1995. Dating to the 1930s, it has a longer and more distinguished history than many government agencies. Over the years its leadership has taken a central role not only in the design of social insurance policy in the United States but also in convincing Americans that Social Security is a needed program and fully in keeping with traditional American values of hard work and self-sufficiency (Derthick).

SSA headquarters are in Baltimore, Maryland, and today it has a staff of over 65,000 employees and 10 regional offices. SSA maintains 1300 field offices, and it is to these offices that individuals go to make inquiries about eligibility and benefits. SSA is one of the few federal agencies that individuals interact with directly; that is, the people serving them are employees of the federal government. (The other major example is the Internal Revenue Service.) The administration of most other government programs involves private nonprofit and proprietary organizations. These organizations contract with the appropriate federal agency, are monitored by that agency, and deliver services for that agency. Among others, this is true of the Medicare program, the Older Americans Act, and the food stamp program.

SSA undertakes a number of activities in support of its principal mission of making payments to beneficiaries under the OASDI and SSI programs. To better inform current workers about how Social Security works, SSA sends individualized statements to them that inform them of the benefits they may receive when they retire. Because a worker's future employment and wages are unknown, these estimates are made on certain assumptions tied to the worker's employment history.

SSA also maintains a research, analysis, and evaluation division. It keeps track of how much money the system is currently expending and currently taking in. In conjunction with the Social Security Advisory Board, created in 1994 as the SSA was becoming an independent agency, SSA staff also undertakes important forecasting activities, advising the president and Congress about the future status of the Social Security trust fund. Because the program is so big and because the American population is aging, these estimates have become very important in discussions about ways in which the Social Security system might be modified or overhauled in the future.

Federal Agencies on Aging - Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services [next]

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