Q: I am on a fixed income, much of which comes from Social Security. Now there is a possible cut to the payroll tax that funds Social Security, and word has it that the program is already running low on money. Would it be lawful for the government to end Social Security all together?
A: Social Security has been upheld as legal by the courts, and has been in existence for many years. The Social Security Act was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, and taxes were collected for the program beginning in 1937; regular monthly benefits started in 1940. Only Congress could repeal the Social Security Act. There is real concern, however, that there are deficits faced by the Social Security Administration and that benefit cuts by 2035 may occur. Recently, President Donald Trump pledged to terminate the payroll tax, which funds Social Security deposits, indicating money would come from the general fund (however, there are serious deficits there too). Thus, the answer to your question is that from a legal standpoint, Social Security will not end because it is based on legislation upheld by the courts. It does not seem at all likely that Congress will end Social Security. Millions rely on it, and even more have paid into it for years. Instead, the problem is how to keep Social Security sufficiently funded.
Q: My Social Security payment did not arrive this month. What do I do?
A: Research provides this answer: If your check does not arrive on time, wait three business days before calling 800-772-1213 to notify the Social Security Administration.
The Social Security Administration has a useful online link — ssa.gov/onlineservices — that reads: “You can apply for retirement, disability and Medicare benefits online, check the status of an application or appeal, request a replacement Social Security card (in most areas), print a benefit verification letter, and more – from anywhere and from any of your devices!” Also, you can call toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (hours are indicated when you call); automated phone service is available 24 hours per day. If you are death or have partial hearing loss, call the TTY, or text telephone, number: 1-800-325-0778.
Social Security numbers were first issued in 1936. More than 450 million different numbers have been issued since.
Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach attorney with more than 35 years of experience. His column, which appears in print on Wednesdays, presents a summary of the law and should not be construed as legal advice. Email questions and comments to him at [email protected]
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